Surfactant Variations in Porous Media Localize Capillary Instabilities during Haines Jumps

Abstract:

We use confocal microscopy to measure velocity and interfacial tension between a trapped wetting phase with a surfactant and a flowing, invading nonwetting phase in a porous medium. We relate interfacial tension variations at the fluid-fluid interface to surfactant concentration and show that these variations localize the destabilization of capillary forces and lead to rapid local invasion of the nonwetting fluid, resulting in a Haines jump. These spatial variations in surfactant concentration are caused by velocity variations at the fluid-fluid interfaces and lead to localization of the Haines jumps even in otherwise very uniform pore structure and pressure conditions. Our results provide new insight into the nature of Haines jumps, one of the most ubiquitous and important instabilities in flow in porous media.

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