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Variable density and viscosity, miscible displacements in horizontal Hele-Shaw cells. Part 2. Nonlinear simulations

  • M. O. John (a1) (a2), R. M. Oliveira (a2), F. H. C. Heussler (a2) (a3) and E. Meiburg (a2)

Abstract

Direct numerical simulations of the variable density and viscosity Navier–Stokes equations are employed, in order to explore three-dimensional effects within miscible displacements in horizontal Hele-Shaw cells. These simulations identify a number of mechanisms concerning the interaction of viscous fingering with a spanwise Rayleigh–Taylor instability. The dominant wavelength of the Rayleigh–Taylor instability along the upper, gravitationally unstable side of the interface generally is shorter than that of the fingering instability. This results in the formation of plumes of the more viscous resident fluid not only in between neighbouring viscous fingers, but also along the centre of fingers, thereby destroying their shoulders and splitting them longitudinally. The streamwise vorticity dipoles forming as a result of the spanwise Rayleigh–Taylor instability place viscous resident fluid in between regions of less viscous, injected fluid, thereby resulting in the formation of gapwise vorticity via the traditional, gap-averaged viscous fingering mechanism. This leads to a strong spatial correlation of both vorticity components. For stronger density contrasts, the streamwise vorticity component increases, while the gapwise component is reduced, thus indicating a transition from viscously dominated to gravitationally dominated displacements. Gap-averaged, time-dependent concentration profiles show that variable density displacement fronts propagate more slowly than their constant density counterparts. This indicates that the gravitational mixing results in a more complete expulsion of the resident fluid from the Hele-Shaw cell. This observation may be of interest in the context of enhanced oil recovery or carbon sequestration applications.

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Corresponding author

Email address for correspondence: meiburg@engineering.ucsb.edu

References

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Variable density and viscosity, miscible displacements in horizontal Hele-Shaw cells. Part 2. Nonlinear simulations

  • M. O. John (a1) (a2), R. M. Oliveira (a2), F. H. C. Heussler (a2) (a3) and E. Meiburg (a2)

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