Volume 27, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1354-0793
  • E-ISSN:


Various energy recovery, storage, conversion and environmental operations may involve repetitive fluid injection and thus, cyclic drainage–imbibition processes. We conducted an experimental study for which polydimethylsiloxane (PDMS)-based micromodels were fabricated with three different levels of pore-space heterogeneity (coefficient of variation, where COV  =  0, 0.25 and 0.5) to represent consolidated and/or partially consolidated sandstones. A total of 10 injection-withdrawal cycles were applied to each micromodel at two different flow rates (0.01 and 0.1 ml min). The experimental results were analysed in terms of flow morphology, sweep efficiency, residual saturation, the connection of fluids and the pressure gradient. The pattern of the invasion and displacement of the non-wetting fluid converged more readily in the homogeneous model (COV  =  0) as the repetitive drainage–imbibition process continued. The overall sweep efficiency converged between 0.4 and 0.6 at all tested flow rates, regardless of different flow rates and COV in this study. In contrast, the effective sweep efficiency was observed to increase with higher COV at the lower flow rate, while that trend became reversed at the higher flow rate. Similarly, the residual saturation of the non-wetting fluid was largest at COV  =  0 for the lower flow rate, but it was the opposite for the higher flow-rate case. However, the Minkowski functionals for the boundary length and connectedness of the non-wetting fluid remained quite constant during repetitive fluid flow. Implications of the study results for porous media-compressed air energy storage (PM-CAES) are discussed as a complementary analysis at the end of this paper.

Figures showing the distribution of water (Fig. S1) and oil (Fig. S2) at the end of each drainage and imbibition step in different microfluidic pore-network models are available at https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.5276814

This article is part of the Energy Geoscience Series available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/cc/energy-geoscience-series


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