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Title: Transition between flow regimes in porous media using magnetic resonance velocimetry : from laminar to turbulent
Author: Lu, Meichen
ISNI:       0000 0004 7661 0542
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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The primary aim of this thesis is to investigate the transition between different flow regimes in porous media. The complete transition spectrum of single-phase flow, from creeping flow to inertial, unsteady laminar, and turbulent flow regimes, was examined in sphere packings. Further understanding of the fundamental fluid dynamics was derived based on the pore-scale flow visualisation using magnetic resonance velocimetry (MRV). Spiral imaging was selected as the ultrafast imaging protocol to probe the transient phenomena, and the acquisition was further accelerated by combining subsampling and compressed sensing reconstruction. In a random sphere packing column with column-to-diameter ratio of 3.44, the inertial effect and the onset of unsteady regime were examined with respect to the principal flow characteristics: the inertial core/channeling, backflow, and helical vortices. Helical vortices have been observed experimentally in a random packing for the first time, and the analogy between the swirling flow and helical vortices provides insight into the design and operation of packed bed reactors. Another new observation is that the transition to the unsteady regime is a highly heterogeneous process, where the evolution of the flow instability depends on the pore geometry. Moreover, pixelwise validation was achieved between the experimental and simulation results on three-dimensional velocity fields in the inertial regime; this is enabled by an image-based meshing pipeline, which reproduces the geometry of the random packing in MRV for the numerical simulation. The unsteady regimes were further investigated using a regular sphere packing, the simple cubic packing (SCP). The spectral analysis, in both the random and regular packing, revealed a route to chaos from the steady to periodic, quasi-periodic, and chaotic dynamics, which was only predicted numerically before. During the transition to turbulence, the coherent structures were extracted using proper orthogonal decomposition (POD), which yields a coherent picture regarding the turbulent dynamics, when combined with the skewness, flatness, and quadrant analysis. Furthermore, it was found that the macroscopic properties converged at lower Reynolds number than the microscopic features. In conclusion, the opportunity to measure flow fields at high spatial and temporal resolution will play an increasingly significant role in the advancement of fundamental fluid dynamics. In this thesis, MRV is used, which is particularly advantageous for non-invasive measurements in opaque systems. This thesis provides the experimental and analysis toolkits for such studies and has demonstrated the contribution to characterising and understanding different flow regimes in porous media.
Supervisor: Gladden, Lynn Sponsor: Cambridge Commonwealth ; European and International Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: porous-media flow ; flow instability ; transitional flow ; MRI