A Quantitative Technique to Compare Experimental Observations and Numerical Simulations of Percolation in Thin Porous Materials

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© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht. Quantitative validation of numerical simulations of percolation in porous media has always been challenging due to the stochastic nature of the material structure and morphology regardless of the numerical technique being used. In this article, we present a technique that allows for a quantitative comparison between numerical and experimental percolation. The experimental observations are of injection pressure and liquid intrusion within thin porous materials in a Hele-Shaw style test. The thin porous materials tested had a surface treatment such the contact angle was larger than 90 ∘ resulting drainage percolation. Flow rates were adjusted to encompass the range of capillary numbers for drainage flow patterns between the stable displacement and capillary fingering. In parallel to the experimental observations, a series of numerical simulations using a two-dimensional pore network model were performed mimicking the Hele-Shaw experiments. The material properties of the pore network realizations, pore size distribution, contact angle, and representative volume for the pore space were based on measurements of the porous materials tested. Boundary and initial conditions were matched between numerical simulations and experiments. To compare and validate the numerical simulation against the experiments, a new scaling of the dissipated energy during percolation in thin porous media was used. This scaling has been recently used to identify the transition between capillary fingering and stable displacement for drainage in different thin porous materials and provides a unique method for characterizing percolation in thin porous materials. Though the experiments and simulations presented in this article are for drainage, the technique described is equally applicable to imbibition. Excellent agreement is obtained between experiment and simulation with clear delineation between different types of thin porous materials.

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Transport in Porous Media