Transport in Porous Media

, 80:581 | Cite as

Condition for Break-up of Non-Wetting Fluids in Sinusoidally Constricted Capillary Channels

  • Igor A. BeresnevEmail author
  • Wenqing Li
  • R. Dennis Vigil


Analysis of capillary-pressure distribution in single channels with sinusoidal profile shows that surface tension-driven flow in such channels is controlled by the pressure extrema at their “crests” and “troughs”. Formulating the geometric condition for the pressure in the troughs to exceed that in the crests leads to a simple criterion for the spontaneous break-up of the non-wetting fluid in the necks of the constrictions. The criterion reduces to the condition for the Plateau-Rayleigh instability as a limiting case. Similar pressure analysis is applicable to the case of a non-wetting fluid invading an open pore body. Computational-fluid-dynamics experiments have verified the validity of the break-up predicted from the capillary-pressure argument. Although the geometric criterion for the break-up is valid for small capillary numbers, it provides a common framework in which the results of various published studies of a non-wetting phase choke-off in capillary constrictions for a wide range of capillary numbers can be explained and understood.


Fluid break-up Instability Capillary flow Porous channels 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Igor A. Beresnev
    • 1
    Email author
  • Wenqing Li
    • 2
  • R. Dennis Vigil
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Geological and Atmospheric SciencesIowa State UniversityAmesUSA
  2. 2.Pfizer Global Research and DevelopmentGrotonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Chemical and Biological EngineeringIowa State UniversityAmesUSA

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