On the transport of emulsions in porous media [Priority Communications]

Cortis, Andrea and Ghezzehei, Teamrat A.

Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, vol. 313(1), pp. 1-4 , 2007.


Emulsions appear in many subsurface applications including bioremediation, surfactant-enhanced remediation, and enhanced oil-recovery. Modeling emulsion transport in porous media is particularly challenging because the rheological and physical properties of emulsions are different from averages of the components. Current modeling approaches are based on filtration theories, which are not suited to adequately address the pore-scale permeability fluctuations and reduction of absolute permeability that are often encountered during emulsion transport. In this communication, we introduce a continuous time random walk based alternative approach that captures these unique features of emulsion transport. Calculations based on the proposed approach resulted in excellent match with experimental observations of emulsion breakthrough from the literature. Specifically, the new approach explains the slow late-time tailing behavior that could not be fitted using the standard approach. The theory presented in this paper also provides an important stepping stone toward a generalized self-consistent modeling of multiphase flow.