Spontaneous imbibition in parallel layers of packed beads
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The imbibition of a wetting fluid in a homogeneous porous medium follows the diffusion-like behavior described by Washburn. The impregnation of a two-layered porous medium by a wetting fluid due to capillary action has been previously described to have two fronts, one saturating the medium and the other, leading front, which propagates in finer pores. Here, we report that the leading front is governed by the porous structure and is not always in the finer pores. Based on the experiments in a layered porous medium of permeability varying perpendicular to the direction of flow, we show that the permeability of the adjacent layers plays a significant role in determining the leading front amongst the layers. We have also developed an analytical model which describes the flow dynamics in the layered porous medium. The model predicts the condition for which the leading front in the larger pores is followed by the front in the finer pores. This condition is also verified experimentally.