Non-aqueous phase liquid drop formation within a water saturated fracture

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This work focuses on the mechanisms of non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) drop formation within a single fracture fed from a NAPL reservoir by way of a circular orifice, such as a pore. The fracture is assumed to be fully saturated, the relative wettability of the system is assumed water-wet, and the water velocity profile within the fracture is described by a Poiseuille flow. The size of the NAPL drops is investigated for various water flow velocities and NAPL entrance diameters. A force balancing method was used to determine the radii of detached drops. The drop sizes calculated from the model developed here are shown to be in agreement with available experimental drop size data. It is shown that at low Reynolds numbers the buoyancy force is the dominant force acting on the drop during the formation process and at high Reynolds numbers the viscous forces dominate. A simplified expression relating the geometry of the fractured system to the drop radii is developed from the model equations, and it is shown to predict drop radii that match well with both the model simulations and the available experimental data.

Original languageBritish English
Pages (from-to)199-209
Number of pages11
JournalColloids and Surfaces A: Physicochemical and Engineering Aspects
Issue number1-3
StatePublished - 15 Jun 2004


  • Drop detachment
  • Drop formation
  • Fracture
  • NAPL
  • Poiseuille flow


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