Kinetics of gravity-driven slug flow in partially wettable capillaries of varying cross section

Alon Nissan, Qiuling Wang, Rony Wallach*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A mathematical model for slug (finite liquid volume) motion in not-fully-wettable capillary tubes with sinusoidally varying cross-sectional areas was developed. The model, based on the Navier-Stokes equation, accounts for the full viscous terms due to nonuniform geometry, the inertial term, the slug's front and rear meniscus hysteresis effect, and dependence of contact angle on flow velocity (dynamic contact angle). The model includes a velocity-dependent film that is left behind the advancing slug, reducing its mass. The model was successfully verified experimentally by recording slug movement in uniform and sinusoidal capillary tubes with a gray-scale high-speed camera. Simulation showed that tube nonuniformity has a substantial effect on slug flow pattern: in a uniform tube it is monotonic and depends mainly on the slug's momentary mass/length; an undulating tube radius results in nonmonotonic flow characteristics. The static nonzero contact angle varies locally in nonuniform tubes owing to the additional effect of wall slope. Moreover, the nonuniform cross-sectional area induces slug acceleration, deceleration, blockage, and metastable-equilibrium locations. Increasing contact angle further amplifies the geometry effect on slug propagation. The developed model provides a modified means of emulating slug flow in differently wettable porous media for intermittent inlet water supply (e.g., raindrops on the soil surface).

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)8472-8486
Number of pages15
JournalWater Resources Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2016

Bibliographical note

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© 2016. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


  • contact angle
  • geometry effect
  • intermittent water supply
  • slug
  • uniform/nonuniform capillary


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