Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Chemical Engineering

Document Type



Imbibition in porous media is governed by the complex interplay between viscous and capillary forces, pore structure and fluid properties. Understanding and predicting imbibition is important in many natural and engineered applications; it affects the efficiency of oil production operations, the moisture and contaminant transport in soil science, and the formation of defects in certain types of composite materials. Majority of the studies published on the transient imbibition behavior in a porous medium were conducted in the simplified 2D transparent micromodels or the 2D projection visualization (X-ray or visible light) of the 3D porous medium. However, the pore level transient imbibition studies have not been reported on real three dimensional porous medium. The main challenge arises from the slowness of the present 3D imaging techniques in comparison with the speed of the pore filling events. To overcome these difficulties, we have developed a novel experimental technique using UV-induced polymerization, which allows the fluid phase distributions to be frozen in place during transient imbibition. Pore-scale structure of the front can then be examined in the 3D microscopic details using the X-ray Computed micro-Tomography (XCT). We have also developed a suite of advanced image segmentation programs to segment the grayscale XCT data. Image-based physically representative pore network generation techniques were unitized to quantify the geometry and topology of pore, wetting and nonwetting phase structure. Using UV initiated polymerization technique and image-based quantitative analysis tools; we have studied the effects of capillary number, pore structure and surface roughness on the structure of the transient imbibition front.



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Committee Chair

Thompson, Karsten