Numerical modelling of fluid flow in microscopic images of granular materials
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A program for the simulation of two-dimensional (2-D) fluid flow at the microstructural level of a saturated anisotropic granular medium is presented. The program provides a numerical solution to the complete set of Navier-Stokes equations without a priori assumptions on the viscous or convection components. This is especially suited for the simulation of the flow of fluids with different density and viscosity values and for a wide range of granular material porosity. The analytical solution for fluid flow in a simple microstructure of porous medium is used to verify the computer program. Subsequently, the flow field is computed within microscopic images of granular material that differ in porosity, particle size and particle shape. The computed flow fields are shown to follow certain paths depending on air void size and connectivity. The permeability tensor coefficients are derived from the flow fields, and their values are shown to compare well with laboratory experimental data on glass beads, Ottawa sand and silica sands. The directional distribution of permeability is expressed in a functional form and its anisotropy is quantified. Permeability anisotropy is found to be more pronounced in the silica sand medium that consists of elongated particles. Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.