High-Resolution Temporo-Ensemble PIV to Resolve Pore-Scale Flow in 3D-Printed Fractured Porous Media

  • Mehrdad Ahkami
  • Thomas Roesgen
  • Martin O. Saar
  • Xiang-Zhao Kong


Fractures are conduits that can enable fast advective transfer of (fluid, solute, reactant, particle, etc.) mass and energy. Such fast transfer can significantly affect pore-scale physico-chemical processes, which can in turn affect macroscopic mass and energy transport characteristics. Here, flooding experiments are conducted in a well-characterized fractured porous medium, manufactured by 3D printing. Given steady-state flow conditions, the micro-structure of the two-dimensional pore fluid flow field is delineated to resolve fluid velocities on the order of a sub-millimeter per second. We demonstrate the capabilities of a new temporo-ensemble particle image velocimetry method by maximizing its spatial resolution, employing in-line illumination. This method is advantageous as it is capable of minimizing the number of pixels, required for velocity determinations, down to one pixel, thereby enabling resolving high spatial resolutions of velocity vectors in a large field of view. While the main goal of this study is to introduce a novel experimental and velocimetry framework, this new method is then applied to specifically improve the understanding of fluid flow through fractured porous media. Histograms of measured velocities indicate log-normal and Gaussian-type distributions of longitudinal and lateral velocities in fractures, respectively. The magnitudes of fluid velocities in fractures and the flow interactions between fractures and matrices are shown to be influenced by the permeability of the background matrix and the orientation of the fractures.


Particle image velocimetry (PIV) Fractured porous media Pore-scale Flow characterization 3D printing 



This work was supported by ETH Grant ETH-12 15-2 and by SNF Grant 177031. The Werner Siemens Foundation (Werner Siemens-Stiftung) is further thanked by Martin Saar for its support of the Geothermal Energy and Geofluids Group at ETH Zurich. We thank our technician, Nils Knornschild, for his invaluable contributions to the described experiments. The datasets generated and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the ETH library under DOI: 10.3929/ethz-b-000281502.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geothermal Energy and Geofluids, Institute of GeophysicsETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Institute of Fluid DynamicsETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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