Understanding Flow and Clogging
in Disordered Porous Media

Pore-level flow velocity magnitude

Pore-level flow velocity magnitude: (left) A confocal microscopy image of fluid flow velocity in a porous medium made with a random loose packing of glass beads (top) before and (bottom) after polymer flow. Polymer retention in pores results in heterogeneous redistribution of the fluid velocities across the medium with flow being even reversed in some pores. (right) PDF of the magnitude of fluid flow velocities before and after polymer flow normalized by interstitial velocity. The value of interstitial velocity after polymer flow is obtained by scaling by the inverse square root of permeability.

Understanding the properties of flow in porous materials and, in particular, how flow may be impeded by clogging is essential for many industrial and environmental applications such as enhanced oil recovery with polymer flooding, biofilm growth in water filters, and precipitation of minerals in porous media.

A team at the Harvard MRSEC led by Amir and Weitz have recently combined experiments and mathematical modeling, to determine the laws that govern the way clogging occurs in a tractable model system for porous media.

A. Amir (Applied Math) &
David A. Weitz (Physics and Applied Physics)
2019-2020 Harvard MRSEC (DMR-1420570)