Micromodels; powerful experimental tools for the studies of two-phase flow and interphase mass and heat transfer

Earth Science and Engineering and Energy Resources and Petroleum Engineering



Micromodels have been proven to be a valuable tool in porous media studies by allowing the direct observation of flow and transport on the micro-scale. They help to increase our insight of flow and transport phenomena on both micro- and macro-scales.

A micromodel is an artificial representation of a porous medium, made of a transparent material. In our studies, we have used Poly-Di-Methyl-Siloxane (PDMS), which is a viscoelastic, silicon-based organic polymer. It is optically transparent, inert, non-toxic, and non-flammable.

We have studied capillary phenomena, colloid transport, and heat transfer during two-phase flow. We have shown that capillarity phenomena are controlled by fluid-fluid interfaces at the micro-scale. Phenomena such as Haines jump, snap-off, and local drainage during imbibition can be clearly seen. We have used our results to produce macroscale data and test our Darcy scale models.

In colloid transport experiments, we directly observe colloids movement, their retention at solid-fluids and fluid-fluid interfaces, and their remobilization with the moving interface and contact lines. We have also performed kinetic heat transport experiments where the two fluids have distinctly different temperatures at the pore scale. Under such conditions, fluid-fluid interfaces play a major in heat transport processes.

Our results show that average fluid-fluid interfacial area is an important state variable for the macroscale description of two-phase flow and transport processes. We have established that the inclusion of average fluid-fluid interfacial area as a macroscale variable lifts the ambiguity of the hysteretic relationship between capillary pressure and saturation in porous media. This is also necessary for proper modelling of kinetic heat and mass transfer between fluid phases.



Prof. Hassanizadeh is Senior Professor with the Center for Simulation Science (SIMTECH), Stuttgart University, Germany, and Emeritus Professor of Hydrogeology at the Faculty of Geosciences of Utrecht University. 

He is elected Fellow of American Geophysical Union (2002), American Association for Advancement of Science (2007), and Academia Europea; Received honorary degree of Doctor-Ingenieur from Stuttgart University (2008); a recipient of von Humboldt Research Prize (2010), Don and Betty Kirkham Soil Physics Medal from Soil Science Society of America (2011), Royal medal of honor of The Netherlands (2015), and Robbert E. Horton Medal from American Geophysical Union (2019).

He co-founded the International Society for Porous Media (InterPore) in 2008, and has been Managing Director of InterPore since then. InterPore has grown to become the premier society for porous media researchers.

His research interests are quire broad and maybe summarized as theoretical, computational, and experimental studies of fluids flow and transport of contaminants, viruses, and colloids in porous media.


Professor Majid Hassanizadeh

Senior Professor, Center for Simulation Science (SIMTECH), Stuttgart University, Germany, and Emeritus Professor of Hydrogeology, Faculty of Geosciences of Utrecht University

Event Quick Information

06 Dec, 2023
11:45 AM - 12:45 PM
KAUST, Bldg. 9, Level 2, Lecture Hall 2