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Macroscopic capillary pressure in multi-phase porous media flow

Project Description

Although multi-phase flow in porous media is an established research field for decades, its theoretical background is still being developed. Recent advances include a new macroscopic theory of capillarity based on the volume averaging method. The theory includes the new derivation of the macroscopic momentum balance equation for the wetting/non-wetting fluid interfaces, and the associated new definition of the macroscopic capillary pressure. The main benefit of the new theory is that it incorporates the effect of the average direction of pores on the resulting capillary force, which is neglected in conventional models. In order to apply the new theory a new set of constitutive relationships needs to be developed.

This aim of this PhD project is to establish the relationship between the macroscopic capillary pressure, average direction of pores, and saturation, for a series of porous media typical for reservoir rocks. This will be done through an extensive experimental programme, to be done in two stages: 2D micro-fluidic experiments, 3D imbibition/drainage experiments. Both sets of experiments will start with idealised regular pore geometry, followed by the pore configuration typical for natural reservoir rocks. The outcome of the project will be novel relationships that need to be built into numerical simulation models of macroscopic multi-phase flows in porous media.

The successful candidate should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or above (or equivalent) in Petroleum engineering, Civil engineering, Chemical engineering, Physics

Essential background: Porous media flows

Knowledge of: Fluid Mechanics


Formal applications can be completed online: You should apply for Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Engineering, to ensure that your application is passed to the correct person for processing.


Informal inquiries can be made to Professor D Pokrajac (d;) with a copy of your curriculum vitae and cover letter. All general enquiries should be directed to the Postgraduate Research School ().

Funding Notes

There is no funding attached to this project, it is for self-funded students only.


Morrow, N. R. (1970). Physics and thermodynamics of capillary action in porous media. Industrial & Engineering Chemistry, 62(6):32-56.
Allen, M. B. (1986). Mechanics of multiphase fluid shows in variably saturated porous media. International journal of engineering science, 24(3):339-351.
Hassanizadeh, S. M. and Gray, W. G. (1990). Mechanics and thermodynamics of multiphase ow in porous media including interphase boundaries. Advances in water re sources, 13(4):169-186.
Gray, W. G. and Hassanizadeh, S. (1993). Thermodynamic basis of capillary pressure in porous media. Water Resources Research, 29(10):3389-3405.
Dahle, H. K., Celia, M. A., and Hassanizadeh, S. M. (2005). Bundle-of-tubes model for calculating dynamic effects in the capillary-pressure-saturation relationship. Transport in Porous media, 58(1-2):5-22.
Mirzaei, M. and Das, D. B. (2007). Dynamic effects in capillary pressure-saturations relationships for two-phase ow in 3d porous media: Implications of micro-heterogeneities.
Chemical Engineering Science, 62(7):1927-1947.
Jackson, A. S., Miller, C. T., and Gray, W. G. (2009). Thermodynamically constrained averaging theory approach for modeling ow and transport phenomena in porous medium
systems: 6. Two-fluid-phase flow. Advances in Water Resources, 32(6):779-795.

How good is research at Aberdeen University in General Engineering?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 38.60

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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