Direct observation of the capillary mechanisms of liquid-liquid entrapment

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Gaul, William
Major Professor
Richard D. Vigil
Igor A. Beresnev
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Chemical and Biological Engineering

The function of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering has been to prepare students for the study and application of chemistry in industry. This focus has included preparation for employment in various industries as well as the development, design, and operation of equipment and processes within industry.Through the CBE Department, Iowa State University is nationally recognized for its initiatives in bioinformatics, biomaterials, bioproducts, metabolic/tissue engineering, multiphase computational fluid dynamics, advanced polymeric materials and nanostructured materials.

The Department of Chemical Engineering was founded in 1913 under the Department of Physics and Illuminating Engineering. From 1915 to 1931 it was jointly administered by the Divisions of Industrial Science and Engineering, and from 1931 onward it has been under the Division/College of Engineering. In 1928 it merged with Mining Engineering, and from 1973–1979 it merged with Nuclear Engineering. It became Chemical and Biological Engineering in 2005.

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1913 - present

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  • Department of Chemical Engineering (1913–1928)
  • Department of Chemical and Mining Engineering (1928–1957)
  • Department of Chemical Engineering (1957–1973, 1979–2005)
    • Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (2005–present)

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The dissertation develops further insight into the behavior of liquid-liquid flow in porous media. This topic is of great importance with applications in chemical reaction engineering, enhanced oil recovery, and environmental remediation. This work focuses on the experimental observation of invading immiscible drops, the long term behavior of their interface, and their entrapment via capillary pressure and mobilization through vibratory stimulation.

Using a simplified capillary physics mechanism several specific predictions can be made. So far these theories have generally agreed with CFD simulations, however a direct comparison to physical experiments is needed.

Experiments were conducted using single pore glass capillaries. Straight capillaries were used to study the film thickness left by an invading drop, which is critical for determining realistic initial conditions for the interface theory. A range of constricted capillaries were used in verifying the ``breakup criterion'' was influenced only by the geometric parameters of the capillary and not flow regimes. Additionally, the experiments and theory demonstrates qualitative agreement with respect to the evolution of the liquid-liquid interface. Finally, the theory of vibratory mobilization was verified by trapping single drops with a pressure below their mobilization threshold and observing the drop's mobilization over several oscillations.

The level of agreement between experiment, theory and CFD demonstrates the utility of the capillary physics mechanism in terms of reducing computational costs. The next goal is extending the theory to networks of pores so we can further our understanding of the oil mobilization and related processes, leading to useful technical applications.

Tue Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2013