Porous media like hydrocarbon reservoirs may be composed of a wide variety of rocks with different porosity and permeability. Our study shows in algorithms and in synthetic numerical simulations that the flow pattern of any particular porous medium, assuming constant fluid properties and standardized boundary and initial conditions, is not affected by any spatial porosity changes but will vary only according to spatial permeability changes. In contrast, the time of flight along the streamline will be affected by both the permeability and porosity, albeit in opposite directions. A theoretical framework is presented with evidence from flow visualizations. A series of strategically chosen streamline simulations, including systematic spatial variations of porosity and permeability, visualizes the respective effects on the flight path and time of flight. Two practical rules are formulated.
Rule1states that an increase in permeability decreases the time of flight, whereas an increase in porosity increases the time of flight. Rule2states that the permeability uniquely controls the flight pathof fluid flow in porous media; local porosity variations do not affect the streamline path. The two rules are essential for understanding fluid transport mechanisms, and their rigorous validation therefore is merited.