Thermal Behavior of Fluid Saturated Porous Media with Phase Changes

  • Ho-Jeen Su
  • Wilbur H. Somerton


In earlier work, Gomaa and Somerton (1) observed that the apparent thermal conductivity of partially liquid saturated sand can be several times larger than for fully liquid saturated sand. Figure 1 shows this effect. The heat pipe concept was introduced to explain this phenomenon. In Figure 2, a cylindrical core sample saturated with water is subjected to two different temperatures, one above the boiling temperature and the other below. If a small amount of liquid is displaced from the system by vapor generated near the hot surface, the vapor will then travel towards the cold surface by a vapor pressure gradient and will condense there. The water is brought into the vapor zone by capillary force due to a saturation gradient. Thus, in addition to heat conduction, a large amount of thermal energy is transported by virtue of latent heat exchange.


Heat Flux Porous Medium Capillary Pressure Heat Pipe Liquid Saturation 
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  1. 1.
    Gomaa, E. E. and Somerton, W. H., “Effect of vapor saturation - heat pipe concept and apparent thermal conductivity,” Society of Petroleum Engineers Paper No. 4896-B, Dallas, 1974.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Calhoun, J. C., Jr., Lewis, M., Jr., and Newman, R. C., “Experiments on the capillary properties of porous solids,” AIME Transactions, 1949, p. 189–196.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Carnahan, B., Luther, H. A. and Wilkes, J. 0., Applied Numerical Methods, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1969, p. 363.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gomaa, E. E., “Thermal Behavior of partially liquid saturated porous media,” Ph.D. Thesis, University of California, Berkeley, 1973, p. 182.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Chen, H. K., Council, J. R. and Ramey, H. J., Jr., “Experimental steam-water relative permeability curves,” Geothermal Resources Council Transactions 2, Part 1, 1978, pp. 103–104.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Purdue Research Foundation 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ho-Jeen Su
    • 1
  • Wilbur H. Somerton
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Mechanical EngineeringUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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