Imaging Science Thesis Defense: Emergence of Preferential Flow Paths and Intermittent Dynamics in Emulsion Transport in Porous Media

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Imaging Science Ph.D. Defense

Imaging Science Thesis Defense
Emergence of Preferential Flow Paths and Intermittent Dynamics in Emulsion Transport in Porous Media

Michael Izaguirre

Imaging Science
Rochester Institute of Technology           

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This dissertation presents breakthrough advancements in the study of emulsion dynamics within two-dimensional porous media. Leveraging cutting-edge image processing and computer vision techniques, including object detection and tracking, we quantified the complex transport properties of emulsions in porous media. We optimized and refined our imaging and detection techniques by adjusting the contrast agent and illumination technique. Utilizing innovative microfluidic techniques, we developed an integrated experimental setup that combines an on-demand microfluidic droplet generator and advanced imaging methods. This microfluidic chip enabled precise control over emulsion size, concentration, and injection rates, allowing us to reveal critical insights into pore-level dynamics and bulk transport properties.
Our findings indicate that emulsions preferentially flow through higher-velocity pores, frequently becoming trapped in smaller pores, which reduces the local porosity and establishes preferential pathways. Our investigation demonstrates that by introducing a slight poly-dispersity in emulsion sizes, the transport of emulsion can be further optimized since emulsions explore new sections of the porous network and the probability of unclogging increases. We find an inverse scaling between the average velocity of a single emulsion and the residency time, despite the highly intermittent dynamics of the droplets within the medium.
We examined the impact of the medium porosity, pore size distribution, and packing algorithms, as well as the effects of fluid properties including interfacial tension on both droplet formation and their transport and deformation. Additionally, advanced signal processing was employed in simulations to assist in the creation of the experimental setup and design of the drop maker.

These advancements provide a robust framework for future studies and have significant implications for applications in soil remediation, drug delivery, and enhanced oil recovery. This research substantially contributes to the fields of microfluidics and multiphase flow, offering new methodologies and insights that will drive future innovations and applications.

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Lori Hyde
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When and Where
July 25, 2024
1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Room/Location: 2155

This is an RIT Only Event

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