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Title: Wettability Effects on Primary Drainage Mechanisms and NAPL Distribution: A Pore-Scale Study

Abstract

The pore-scale processes governing water drainage behavior in porous media have implications for geoscience multiphase scenarios including carbon capture and storage, contaminant site remediation, oil recovery, and vadose zone processes. However, few studies report directly observed pore-scale water drainage phenomena in 3-D soils. This knowledge gap limits our ability to verify assumptions underlying existing models and develop optimal solutions. As such, this paper utilizes synchrotron X-ray microtomography to present an experimental pore-scale examination of nonaqueous phase liquid (NAPL)/water distribution along a primary drainage front as dense NAPL was injected upward into water wetting (WW) and intermediate wetting (IW) sand-packed columns. Pore-network structures were extracted from imaged data sets and mapped onto segmented NAPL/water data sets which allowed quantitative examinations of wettability impacts on (a) the extent to which NAPL fills individual pore bodies and (b) relationships between pore size and the phase occupying the pore, with both considered as a function of distance (and capillary pressure) relative to the NAPL front. These results revealed that several hypotheses treating IW sand similarly to WW sands are simplistic. IW systems exhibited a sequence of pore filling that deviated from traditional capillary pressure-based model predictions: NAPL invades smaller pores, while larger, adjacent poresmore » are bypassed leaving multipore residual water ganglia. NAPL pore saturations were close to 1 and did not change with capillary pressure in IW systems. Overall, the results illustrate how a relatively small change in operative contact angle alters NAPL distribution during water drainage, with important implications for geoscience multiphase flow scenarios.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]; ORCiD logo [4]
  1. Univ. of Western Ontario, London, ON (Canada); Univ. of Edinburgh, Scotland (United Kingdom)
  2. Univ. of Western Ontario, London, ON (Canada)
  3. Univ. of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW (Australia)
  4. Univ. of Western Ontario, London, ON (Canada); Louisiana State Univ., Baton Rouge, LA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Argonne National Lab. (ANL), Argonne, IL (United States). Advanced Photon Source (APS)
Sponsoring Org.:
National Science Foundation (NSF); USDOE Office of Science (SC), Basic Energy Sciences (BES). Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biosciences Division; Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
OSTI Identifier:
1599441
Grant/Contract Number:  
FG02-94ER14466; AC02-06CH11357
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Water Resources Research
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 56; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 0043-1397
Publisher:
American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
ENGLISH
Subject:
58 GEOSCIENCES; multiphase flow; NAPL; percolation; pore scale; transport; wettability

Citation Formats

Molnar, Ian L., Gerhard, Jason I., Willson, Clinton S., and O'Carroll, Denis M. Wettability Effects on Primary Drainage Mechanisms and NAPL Distribution: A Pore-Scale Study. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019WR025381.
Molnar, Ian L., Gerhard, Jason I., Willson, Clinton S., & O'Carroll, Denis M. Wettability Effects on Primary Drainage Mechanisms and NAPL Distribution: A Pore-Scale Study. United States. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019WR025381
Molnar, Ian L., Gerhard, Jason I., Willson, Clinton S., and O'Carroll, Denis M. Fri . "Wettability Effects on Primary Drainage Mechanisms and NAPL Distribution: A Pore-Scale Study". United States. https://doi.org/10.1029/2019WR025381. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1599441.
@article{osti_1599441,
title = {Wettability Effects on Primary Drainage Mechanisms and NAPL Distribution: A Pore-Scale Study},
author = {Molnar, Ian L. and Gerhard, Jason I. and Willson, Clinton S. and O'Carroll, Denis M.},
abstractNote = {The pore-scale processes governing water drainage behavior in porous media have implications for geoscience multiphase scenarios including carbon capture and storage, contaminant site remediation, oil recovery, and vadose zone processes. However, few studies report directly observed pore-scale water drainage phenomena in 3-D soils. This knowledge gap limits our ability to verify assumptions underlying existing models and develop optimal solutions. As such, this paper utilizes synchrotron X-ray microtomography to present an experimental pore-scale examination of nonaqueous phase liquid (NAPL)/water distribution along a primary drainage front as dense NAPL was injected upward into water wetting (WW) and intermediate wetting (IW) sand-packed columns. Pore-network structures were extracted from imaged data sets and mapped onto segmented NAPL/water data sets which allowed quantitative examinations of wettability impacts on (a) the extent to which NAPL fills individual pore bodies and (b) relationships between pore size and the phase occupying the pore, with both considered as a function of distance (and capillary pressure) relative to the NAPL front. These results revealed that several hypotheses treating IW sand similarly to WW sands are simplistic. IW systems exhibited a sequence of pore filling that deviated from traditional capillary pressure-based model predictions: NAPL invades smaller pores, while larger, adjacent pores are bypassed leaving multipore residual water ganglia. NAPL pore saturations were close to 1 and did not change with capillary pressure in IW systems. Overall, the results illustrate how a relatively small change in operative contact angle alters NAPL distribution during water drainage, with important implications for geoscience multiphase flow scenarios.},
doi = {10.1029/2019WR025381},
journal = {Water Resources Research},
number = 1,
volume = 56,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {11}
}

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