Symmetric wetting heterogeneity suppresses fluid displacement hysteresis in granular piles.
We investigate experimentally the impact of heterogeneity on the capillary pressure hysteresis in fluid invasion of model porous media. We focus on `symmetric' heterogeneity, where the contact angles the fluid interface makes with the oil-wet ($\theta_1$) and the water-wet ($\theta_2$) beads add up to $\pi$. While enhanced heterogeneity is usually known to increase hysteresis phenomena, we find that hysteresis is greatly reduced when heterogeneities in wettability are introduced. On the contrary, geometric heterogeneity (like bi-disperse particle size) does not lead to such effect. We provide a qualitative explanation of this surprising result, resting on rather general geometric arguments.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1801.04990