Martin Blunt, PhD | Imperial College London
TITLEFlow in porous materials: a of tale X-rays, minimal surfaces and wettability
I will provide an overview of the current revolution in our understanding of flow, transport and reaction processes in porous media, enabled by 3D imaging from the nanometer scale upwards, micro-fluidics, and improved numerical methods. This will be illustrated by examples from work at Imperial College London on multiphase flow in rocks with application to improved oil recovery and carbon dioxide storage. X-rays are used to image flow processes in rocks at a spatial resolution of down to 1 micron and a time resolution between 1 and 1,000 s. These experiments can be used to measure traditional multiphase flow properties – relative permeability and capillary pressure – while providing pore-scale insight into displacement processes. We show how an accurate characterization of wettability, or the local distribution of contact angle, enables us to understand flow and trapping, and explain the circumstances which are optimal for storage or recovery applications. The experiments also provide a wealth of data to calibrate and validate pore-to-core scale flow and transport models.
I will also outline how the same techniques can be used to understand and design processes in a range of porous materials from termite nests and thermal insulation to batteries and fuel cells.
Professor Blunt's research interests are in multiphase flow in porous media with many applications including oil and gas recovery, geological carbon storage, and contaminant transport and clean-up in polluted aquifers. He performs experimental, theoretical and numerical research into many aspects of flow and transport in porous systems, including pore-scale imaging, modelling and analysis of displacement processes, and large-scale simulation using streamline-based methods. He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal Transport in Porous Media. He has over 250 scientific publications. He is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.