Novel approaches for modelling flow in porous media

Monday 01 July 2019

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A wine stain spreading on tablecloth or oil percolating into wet sand are examples of a fluid displacing another in a porous material. Understanding the way by which fluids move and the enchanting patterns they form is crucial in processes, from microfluidics and coating to production and storage of energy in the subsurface or clean-up of soil and water.

Despite this importance and the great scientific and technological interest, modelling of how fluids flow in porous media remains elusive. A major challenge is that many of the processes occur at the scale of individual pores (sizes of the order of millimetres), whereas the phenomena of interest are often at the scale of meters and even kilometres.

In a recent paper published in PNAS, 14 leading groups--including the new "Engineering Applications of Fluid Mechanics" group within the Faculty Research Centre in Fluid and Complex Systems (FCS) - have participated in an unprecedented comparison of state-of-the-art models against a recent experimental dataset. The results underscore the challenges of simulating flow through porous media, highlighting specific areas for further effort in what is already a flourishing field of research.

Read more information about this paper and the new Engineering Applications of Fluid Mechanics