Secondary Imbibition in NAPL-invaded Mixed-Wet Sediments

by Ahmed Al-Futaisi, Tadeusz W. Patzek
Year: 2004


​Al-Futaisi, A. and Patzek, T. W., “Secondary Imbibition in NAPL-invaded Mixed-Wet Sediments,” Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 74 1-4 p61-81, 2004.


​A previously developed pore network model is used here to study the spontaneous and forced secondary imbibition of a NAPL-invaded sediment, as in the displacement of NAPL by waterflooding a mixed-wet soil. We use a 3D disordered pore network with a realistic representation of pore geometry and connectivity, and a quasi-static displacement model that fully describes the pore-scale physics. After primary drainage (NAPL displacing water) up to a maximum capillary pressure, we simulate secondary imbibition (water displacing NAPL). We conduct a parametric study of imbibition by varying systematically the controlling parameters: the advancing contact angles, the fraction of NAPL-wet pores, the interfacial tension, and the initial water saturation. Once the secondary imbibition is completed, the controlling displacement mechanisms, capillary pressures, relative permeabilities, and trapped NAPL saturations are reported. It is assumed that NAPL migrates into an initially strongly water-wet sediment, i.e., the receding contact angles are very small. However, depending on the surface mineralogy and chemical compositions of the immiscible fluid phases, the wettability of pore interiors is altered while the neighborhoods of pore corners remain strongly water-wet-resulting in a mixed-wet sediment. Here, we compare three different levels of wettability alteration: water-wet (advancing contact angles (20° to 55°), intermediate-wet (55° to 120°), and NAPL-wet (120° to 155°). The range of advancing contact angles and the fraction of NAPL-wet pores have dramatic effects on the NAPL-water capillary pressures and relative permeabilities. The spatially inhomogeneous interfacial tension has a minor impact on the trapped NAPL saturation and relative permeability to NAPL, and a slight effect on the relative permeability to water. The initial water saturation has a slight effect on the two-phase flow characteristics of water-wet sediments; however, with more NAPL-wet pores in the sediment, it starts to have a profound effect on the water and NAPL relative permeabilities.


Pore Network Mixed-wet Relative Permeability Capillary Pressure Secondary Imbibition Initial Water Saturation Trapping