Effect of vibrations on pore fluid distribution in porous media

Ming Xiao, Lakshmi N. Reddi, Susan L. Steinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Understanding the role of shuttle vibrations in pore fluid distribution is an essential task in the exploration of plant growth in root modules aboard space flights. Results from experimental investigations are reported in this paper on the distribution of immiscible fluid phases in glass beads under vibrations. Hexadecane, a petroleum compound immiscible with and lighter than water, was used in the experiments. The higher freezing point of Hexadecane (18 °C) allowed the solidification of the entrapped blobs in the presence of water in porous media, so that their size distribution can be obtained. van Genuchten function, commonly used to express moisture retention curves, is found to be an adequate fit for blob size distribution at residual saturation. The effect of vibrations on the fate (mobilization, stranding, or breakup) of a solitary ganglion in porous media was studied using a network model. A mobility criterion considering viscous, gravity, and capillary forces was developed to determine the fate of a solitary ganglion in a porous medium. It is concluded that the effect of vibrations is to increase the likelihood of breakup and mobilization of blobs entrapped in porous media at residual saturation. The pore fluid distributions after vibrations are less uniform than those before vibrations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-204
Number of pages18
JournalTransport in Porous Media
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Chemical Engineering(all)


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