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Disconnected gas transport in steady‐state three‐phase flow

Title: Disconnected gas transport in steady‐state three‐phase flow
Authors: Alhosani, A
Selem, AM
Lin, Q
Bijeljic, B
Blunt, MJ
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: We use high-resolution three-dimensional X-ray microtomography to investigate fluid displacement during steady-state three-phase flow in a cm-sized water-wet sandstone rock sample. The pressure differential across the sample is measured which enables the determination of relative permeability; capillary pressure is also estimated from the interfacial curvature. Though the measured relative permeabilities are consistent, to within experimental uncertainty, with values obtained without imaging on larger samples, we discover a unique flow dynamics. The most non-wetting phase (gas) is disconnected across the system: gas flows by periodically opening critical flow pathways in intermediate-sized pores. While this phenomenon has been observed in two-phase flow, here it is significant at low flow rates, where capillary forces dominate at the pore-scale. Gas movement proceeds in a series of double and multiple displacement events. Implications for the design of three-phase flow processes and current empirical models are discussed: the traditional conceptualization of three-phase dynamics based on analogies to two-phase flow vastly over-estimates the connectivity and flow potential of the gas phase.
Issue Date: Dec-2021
Date of Acceptance: 29-Nov-2021
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/93274
DOI: 10.1029/2021wr031147
ISSN: 0043-1397
Publisher: American Geophysical Union (AGU)
Start Page: 1
End Page: 26
Journal / Book Title: Water Resources Research
Volume: 57
Issue: 12
Copyright Statement: © 2021. The Authors. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: 0406 Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience
0905 Civil Engineering
0907 Environmental Engineering
Environmental Engineering
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2021-11-29
Appears in Collections:Earth Science and Engineering

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