Civil and Environmental Engineering


Date of this Version



Kim, S.; Zhang, J.; Ryu, S. Experimental Study: The Effect of Pore Shape, Geometrical Heterogeneity, and Flow Rate on the Repetitive Two-Phase Fluid Transport in Microfluidic Porous Media. Micromachines 2023, 14, 1441.


Open access.


Geologic subsurface energy storage, such as porous-media compressed-air energy storage (PM-CAES) and underground hydrogen storage (UHS), involves the multi-phase fluid transport in structurally disordered or heterogeneous porous media (e.g., soils and rocks). Furthermore, such multi-phase fluid transport is likely to repeatedly occur due to successive fluid injections and extractions, thus, resulting in cyclic drainage–imbibition processes. To complement our preceding study, we conducted a follow-up study with microfluidic pore-network devices with a square solid shape (Type II) to further advance our understanding on the effect of the pore shape (aspect ratio, Type I: 5–6 > Type II: ~1), pore-space heterogeneity (coefficient of variation, COV = 0, 0.25, and 0.5), and flow rates (Q = 0.01 and 0.1 mL/min) on the repetitive two-phase fluid flow in general porous media. The influence of pore shape and pore-space heterogeneity were observed to be more prominent when the flow rate was low (e.g., Q = 0.01 mL/min in this study) on the examined outcomes, including the drainage and imbibition patterns, the similarity of those patterns between repeated steps, the sweep efficiency and residual saturation of the nonwetting fluid, and fluid pressure. On the other hand, a higher flow rate (e.g., Q = 0.1 mL/min in this study) appeared to outweigh those factors for the Type II structure, owing to the low aspect ratio (~1). It was also suggested that the flow morphology, sweep efficiency, residual saturation, and required pressure gradient may not severely fluctuate during the repeated drainage—imbibition processes; instead, becoming stabilized after 4–5 cycles, regardless of the aspect ratio, COV, and Q. Implications of the study results for PM-CAES and UHS are discussed as a complementary analysis at the end of this manuscript.