Retention of Hydrophobic Colloids in Unsaturated Porous Media using Microfluidics
MetadataShow full item record
Water recharge wells can provide a solution for 3.5 billion people, living in regions suffering from water scarcity. Due to fines migration, freshwater wells that are used to recharge aquifers, often experience expedited deterioration. Colloidal clay fine particles can be mobilized from within aquifers due to hydrodynamic forces or the sweeping of gas-water interface (GWI). The released colloids concentration increases then starts to retain and clog at the pores within the aquifer formation. Although fines migration is responsible for decommissioning many recharge wells, yet there is a lack of pore scale observations that uncover clogging mechanisms within porous media. Thus, this study utilizes wide-field optical macroscopy and microfluidic models with pore morphology of sandstone, to investigate the clogging mechanisms of hydrophobic colloids. The aim is to discover how interfacial surfaces within porous media retain colloids. Hence imbibition and drainage of colloidal suspension were carried to vary water saturation. Flow experiments were imaged at a resolution of 1µm/pixel, while colloids diameter was 5 µm. Images were segmented into solid, water, gas and colloids. Then the amount of colloids retained on each interface was quantified. Findings revealed that hydrophobic colloids retained mainly on the GWI. For colloids suspension in deionized water, affinity of colloids to GWI was high enough to cause bubble stabilization. In both hydrophobic and hydrophilic porous media, colloids disconnected the gas phase to create larger GWI surface. More than 90% of hydrophobic colloids were cleaned from the media after drainage, uncovering an efficient remediation technique for water aquifer.