The flow of two immiscible fluids through porous materials is of great interest to scientists in several disciplines. Flows like this occur when rainwater flows through partially saturated soils, when groundwater invades an underground petroleum reservoir as the oil is extracted or when carbon dioxide is stored in a deep subsurface aquifer. The physics of such multi-component flows results from an interplay between the energy of the interfaces and the geometry of the pore space. The curvature of the interfaces is of particular significance as it is determined by the relative pressure of the fluids.
Using the ANU X-ray micro-CT instrument we are able to make detailed 3D images of two-component fluid flows occurring inside the labyrinth-like internal pore structures of porous materials such as soils and rocks. In particular, we can now capture the microscopic configuration of the fluids in sufficient detail that curvature of the fluid-fluid interfaces can be determined, providing a wealth of new information about what’s actually going on inside the materials. A wealth of images, obtained during experiments into carbon sequestration and oil extraction, have already been acquired at the ANU facility and will form the basis for this project. This project will then focus on analysing the images and understanding the phenomena that are captured.
General physics background is ideal. Programming experience would be a great help, either python or C++, although matlab or mathematica would also be appropriate