Transport in Porous Media

, Volume 118, Issue 1, pp 119–142 | Cite as

Investigation of Gravity-Driven Drainage and Forced Convective Drying in a Macroporous Medium Using Neutron Radiography

  • Sreeyuth LalEmail author
  • Lily D. Poulikakos
  • Iwan Jerjen
  • Peter Vontobel
  • Manfred N. Partl
  • Dominique Derome
  • Jan Carmeliet


The co-occurrence of gravity-driven drainage and forced convective drying in a macroporous medium is investigated in this study. The drainage and drying processes of fully saturated porous asphalt (PA) specimens placed in a custom-made mini wind tunnel are documented with neutron radiography (NR). Six PA specimens of dimensions \(180\times 10\times 30\,\hbox {mm}^{3}\) with a maximum aggregate size of 8 or 11 mm are used in the experiments. In the first few minutes of each experiment, there is significant moisture loss in all the specimens due to gravity-driven drainage. Most of the residual water retention is observed at the bottom region of the specimens due to the strong impact of gravity-driven drainage in the upper regions. The specimens are subjected to many hours of airflow at their top surface; however, forced convection from turbulent airflow near the upper part of the specimens is found to have a minor influence on moisture loss when there are no water clusters in the upper regions of the specimens. This points to the strong resistance to evaporation in PA as a result of the large vapor diffusion lengths. By combining neutron radiography and microcomputer tomography (X-ray \(\upmu \)-CT) images, saturated and unsaturated flows in the pores are distinguished. Fluid flow path during air entry and water redistribution is further analyzed by reconstructing the real three-dimensional pore geometry of the specimens from X-ray \(\upmu \)-CT scans.


Porous media Gravity-driven drainage Convective drying Porous asphalt Neutron radiography 



This research was supported by a Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) Grant (200021_143651).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sreeyuth Lal
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Lily D. Poulikakos
    • 4
  • Iwan Jerjen
    • 5
  • Peter Vontobel
    • 6
  • Manfred N. Partl
    • 4
  • Dominique Derome
    • 1
  • Jan Carmeliet
    • 1
    • 7
  1. 1.Laboratory for Multiscale Studies in Building PhysicsEmpa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and TechnologyDübendorfSwitzerland
  2. 2.Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic EngineeringETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Electrochemistry laboratoryPaul Scherrer InstituteVilligen PSISwitzerland
  4. 4.Road Engineering/Sealing Components LaboratoryEmpa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and TechnologyDübendorfSwitzerland
  5. 5.Laboratory for Electronics/Metrology/ReliabilityEmpa, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and TechnologyDübendorfSwitzerland
  6. 6.Laboratory for Neutron Scattering and ImagingPaul Scherrer InstituteVilligen PSISwitzerland
  7. 7.Chair of Building PhysicsETH ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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