Capillary end effect in a water saturated porous layer

Arieh Pistiner*, Michael Shapiro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The uni-directional propagation of oil injected into water flowing through a water wetted porous slab of a finite length is investigated. The inlet and outlet edges of the slab are impermeable to the oil flux. Hence, the oil accumulates within the slab, thereby leading to a saturation build-up-capillary end effect. This phenomenon is studied analytically on the basis of a nonlinear equation describing oil-water transport in porous media. A dimensionless criterion is derived, which governs the appearance and relative strength of the capillary end effect. For weak oil-water interfacial tension (large capillary number) and long porous slabs the above effect is not observed and the temporal evolution of the oil saturation is described by the Buckley-Leverett solution. Short porous slabs are found to be almost entirely subjected to the capillary end effect. Intermediate situations are identified and quantitatively described, in which the downstream part of the slab may be divided into two zones: one-characterized by the capillary end effect, and the other being a Buckley-Leverett zone. It is shown, that the oil flux injected into the slab is limited by a maximum value which depends upon the location of the injection point. The partition of the inlet flux between the upstream and downstream directions is investigated. In the upstream side of the porous slab the oil moves under the action of free imbibition only. It is found that the upstream flux is limited by the value, which is independent of the slab's length and of the location of the injection point.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-275
Number of pages15
JournalTransport in Porous Media
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • Buckley-Leverett zone
  • Oil-water flow
  • capillary end effect
  • free imbibition
  • porous media


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