Transport in Porous Media

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 277–297 | Cite as

Micromodel Observation of the Role of Oil Layers in Three-Phase Flow

  • Arturo A. Keller
  • Martin J. Blunt
  • Arturo Paul V. Roberts


We have studied the flow of a non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL, or oil), water and air at the pore scale using a micromodel. The pore space pattern from a photomicrograph of a two-dimensional section through a Berea sandstone was etched onto a silicon wafer. The sizes of the pores in the micromodel are in the range 3–30,μm and are the same as observed in the rock from which the image was taken. We conducted three-phase displacement experiments at low capillary numbers (in the order of 10-7) to observe the presence of predicted displacement mechanisms at the pore scale. We observed stable oil layers between the wetting phase (water) and the non-wetting phase (gas) for the water–decane–air system, which has a negative equilibrium spreading coefficient, as well as four different types of double displacements where one fluid displaces another that displaces a third. Double imbibition and double drainage are readily observed, but the existence of an oil layer surrounding the gas phase makes the other double displacement combinations very unlikely.

NAPL multiphase flow three-phase flow film flow micromodel spreading coefficient non-spreading oil. 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arturo A. Keller
    • 1
  • Martin J. Blunt
    • 2
  • Arturo Paul V. Roberts
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Environmental Science and ManagementUniversity of CaliforniaSanta Barbara
  2. 2.Petroleum Engineering DepartmentStanford UniversityStanford
  3. 3.Environmental Science and Engineering Program, Civil Engineering DepartmentStanford UniversityStanford

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