Nonequilibrium thermomechanical modeling of liquid drainage/imbibition in trickle beds



We extend the macroscopic nonequilibrium thermomechanical multiphase flow theory proposed by Hassanizadeh and Gray for porous media to analyze a set of drainage and imbibition experiments in trickle beds. The nonequilibrium model rests on inclusion of mass and momentum conservations for the gas-liquid interface, nonequilibrium capillary pressure, Helmholtz free energy gradients in the body supply of momentum for fluid bulk phases and gas-liquid interface, and mass exchange rates between interface and fluid bulks accounting for production and destruction of gas-liquid interfacial area. To solve the nonequilibrium model, entropy-consistent constitutive relationships are derived and calibrated using liquid holdup and bed pressure drop measurements in drainage and imbibition. The model captures very well the decay (drainage), and breakthrough (imbibition) curvatures of liquid holdup and pressure drop kinetics, while model closer inspection allows assessing the role of nonequilibrium capillary pressure and of dynamic interfacial mass exchanges for the production/destruction of interfacial area. © 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 58: 3123–3134, 2012