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, 1905-1920 460 2004 Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A

J. Xing, R. A. Shenoi, P. A. Wilson and J. T. Xing

**condition of variable pressure
**

Fluid flow through porous media subjected to a boundary

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10.1098/rspa.2003.1122

Fluid ﬂow through porous media subjected to

a boundary condition of variable pressure

By J. Xi ng

1

, R. A. Shenoi

2

, P. A. Wi lson

2

and J. T. Xi ng

2

1

National Key Laboratory of Advanced Composites, Beijing Institute of

Aeronautical Materials, Beijing 100095, People’s Republic of China

2

School of Engineering Sciences, Ship Science, University of Southampton,

Highﬁeld, Southampton SO17 1BJ, UK (r.a.shenoi@ship.soton.ac.uk)

Received 1 May 2002; accepted 17 January 2003; published online 20 April 2004

Analytical solutions deﬁning ﬂow through porous media subjected to a boundary

condition of variable pressure are developed in this paper. The traditional solutions

of ﬂow through porous media subjected to a boundary condition of constant pressure

are special cases of the generalized solutions given herein. The gravitational eﬀect

is also considered and a moving-coordinate system with a ﬂow velocity caused by

the gravitation is chosen to investigate the form of the wet domain. Applications

of the developed theory to permeability measurement in resin-transfer moulding are

described.

Keywords: porosity; variable-pressure boundary;

permeability measurement; resin-transfer moulding

1. Introduction

Up to now, it has been widely accepted that Darcy’s law (Darcy 1856) provides a

good description of porosity problems. In this theory, the permeability k of a porous

medium is the most important parameter, and it is often determined by experiments.

The classical solutions of a channel- or a radial-ﬂow problem subjected to a constant-

pressure boundary condition (see, for example, Scheidegger 1960, 1963a, b; De Wiest

1969) give a foundation for calculating permeability from experimental modelling.

With the rapid development of composite materials, a modern production pro-

cess called resin-transfer moulding (RTM) is widely used. Because this process is

successfully modelled by ﬂow theory through porous media, the measurements of

permeability of the fabric materials become important for process simulation. There

are many publications on this topic, such as Gauvin & Chibani (1986, 1990), Gau-

vin et al . (1994), Gebart et al . (1991), Gebart (1992), Gebart & Lidstr¨ om (1996),

Parnas & Salem (1993) and Ferland et al . (1996) for channel-ﬂow measurements and

Adams et al . (1986, 1988), Adams & Rebenfeld (1987, 1991a, b), Chan & Hwang

(1991), Chan et al . (1993) and Chick et al . (1996) for radial-ﬂow measurements.

Both the channel-ﬂow and radial-ﬂow measurements reported in most references are

based on the corresponding analytical solutions, for which the injection pressure or

the injection ﬂow rate/volume rate is assumed to be a constant (see Rudd et al .

1996, 1997; Adams et al . 1986, 1988; Adams & Rebenfeld 1987, 1991a, b; Gebart

1992; Gebart & Lidstr¨ om 1996; Gauvin et al . 1996; Weitzenb¨ ock 1996; Weitzenb¨ ock

Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A (2004) 460, 1905–1920

1905

c 2004 The Royal Society

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1906 J. Xing and others

et al . 1999a, b). However, practical experiments have demonstrated that a constant-

pressure boundary condition is not always achievable (see, for example, Weitzenb¨ ock

1996; Weitzenb¨ ock et al . 1999a, b; Xing 2001). Therefore, it is necessary to develop

some solutions of channel- or radial-porosity problems subjected to variable-pressure

boundary conditions in order to support practical permeability-measurement exper-

iments. The present work attempts to address this problem.

2. Governing equations

A Cartesian coordinate system Ox

1

x

2

x

3

is chosen as a reference frame to investigate

ﬂows through porous media occupying a domain Ω in three-dimensional space. The

positive direction of the axis x

3

is vertical upward and therefore the gravitation

force is negative. It is assumed that the ﬂuid studied herein is an isotropic liquid

with a viscosity coeﬃcient µ and the porous material is an anisotropic medium of

permeability tensor k

ij

. The governing equations describing this ﬂow process are as

follows.

The generalized Darcy law

q

i

= −

k

ij

µ

(p

,j

+ ρgδ

3j

), x

i

∈ Ω. (2.1)

The continuity equation

−ερ

,t

= (ρq

j

)

,j

, x

i

∈ Ω. (2.2)

The state equation

ρ = ρ(p), x

i

∈ Ω. (2.3)

Boundary conditions On a ﬂow-velocity boundary S

q

, the ﬂow velocity ˆ q

i

is pre-

scribed, i.e.

q

i

= ˆ q

i

(t), x

i

∈ S

q

. (2.4)

For a ﬁxed wall boundary, the ﬂow velocity ˆ q

i

vanishes and q

i

= 0.

On a ﬂow-pressure boundary S

p

, the pressure ˆ p is prescribed, i.e.

p

f

= ˆ p(t), x

i

∈ S

p

. (2.5)

In equations (2.1)–(2.5), there are ﬁve unknown variables q

i

(i = 1, 2, 3), p and ρ

to be determined. The solution of these equations as well as an initial time condition

provides a description of a ﬂow in a porous medium. To obtain an analytical solution

of equations (2.1)–(2.5), it is assumed that the ﬂuid discussed is incompressible, and

therefore its mass density ρ is a constant; thus, ρ

,t

= 0 = ρ

,j

, reducing equation (2.2)

to

q

j,j

= 0. (2.6)

Here, more generally, the boundary ﬂow rate ˆ q

i

(t) and pressure ˆ p

i

(t) are assumed

to be functions of time t, which is not the same as in classical theory (see, for example,

De Wiest 1969; Scheidegger 1960, 1963a, b).

Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A (2004)

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Flows through porous media 1907

O

O

x

2

x

3

x

1

p

0

x

f

p

f

x

1

Figure 1. One-dimensional ﬂow in a horizontal direction x

1

.

3. Analytical solutions

(a) One-dimensional channel ﬂow

As shown in ﬁgure 1, a one-dimensional tube comprising a porous medium strip along

its x

1

-direction and assumed to be located in a horizontal plane. The section of the

tube perpendicular to the x

1

-direction is parallel to the Ox

2

x

3

-plane of the reference

coordinate system ﬁxed in the porous medium to be studied herein. Because the

cross-section of the tube is much smaller than its length, the ﬂow perpendicular to

the x

1

-axis is neglected, which gives q

2

= q

3

= 0. However, because of the viscosity

eﬀect of the ﬂuid, the pressure on each section perpendicular to the x

1

-axis is not a

constant, and the pressure gradient components p

,2

and p

,3

do not vanish.

In general cases, the direction x

1

is not a principal direction of the permeabil-

ity tensor. The pressure gradient component p

,1

will produce ﬂows on the section

perpendicular to the x

1

-axis and the ﬂow q

1

in the x

1

-direction depends on the

permeability parameters of the Ox

2

x

3

-plane. Equation (2.1) now takes the form

−

1

µ

⎡

⎣

k

11

k

12

k

13

k

21

k

22

k

23

k

31

k

32

k

33

⎤

⎦

⎡

⎣

p

,1

p

,2

p

,3

+ ρg

⎤

⎦

=

⎡

⎣

q

1

0

0

⎤

⎦

, (3.1)

from which it follows that

¸

p

,2

p

,3

+ ρg

= −

¸

k

22

k

23

k

32

k

33

−1

¸

k

21

k

31

p

,1

, (3.2)

q

1

= −

1

µ

˜

k

11

p

,1

, (3.3)

where

˜

k

11

denotes the eﬀective permeability along the x

1

-direction, i.e.

˜

k

11

= k

11

−

k

12

k

13

¸

k

22

k

23

k

32

k

33

−1

¸

k

21

k

31

. (3.4)

Consider a special case in which the x

1

-direction is a principal direction of the

porous medium. The pressure gradient component p

,1

will not produce any ﬂow

in the section perpendicular to the x

1

-axis. This gives that k

12

= k

21

= 0 and

k

13

= k

31

= 0, and therefore

˜

k

11

= k

11

.

Substituting equation (3.3) into equation (2.6) and combining with the pressure

boundary conditions at x

1

= x

0

and x

1

= x

f

yields the following equations describing

Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A (2004)

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1908 J. Xing and others

this one-dimensional ﬂow:

p

,11

= 0, (3.5)

p = p

0

(t), x

1

= x

0

, (3.6)

p = p

f

(t), x

1

= x

f

. (3.7)

The solution of this problem is

p =

p

f

(x

1

−x

0

) −p

0

(x

1

−x

f

)

x

f

−x

0

, (3.8)

from which it follows that

∂p

∂x

1

=

p

f

−p

0

x

f

−x

0

. (3.9)

Substituting this equation into equation (3.3) gives

q

1

= −

˜

k

11

µ

p

f

−p

0

x

f

−x

0

. (3.10)

Because the ﬂow velocity q

1

(x

f

) at the front of the ﬂow at x

1

= x

f

is

q

1

(x

f

) = ε

dx

f

dt

, (3.11)

therefore

ε

dx

f

dt

= −

˜

k

11

µ

p

f

−p

0

x

f

−x

0

. (3.12)

On integrating this equation, it is obvious that

1

2

ε(x

f

−x

0

)

2

= −

˜

k

11

µ

t

0

(p

f

−p

0

) dt, (3.13)

which gives

˜

k

11

= −

εµ(x

f

−x

0

)

2

2

t

0

(p

f

−p

0

) dt

. (3.14)

If the pressures p

0

and p

f

are constants, equation (3.14) reduces to

˜

k

11

= −

εµ(x

f

−x

0

)

2

2(p

f

−p

0

)t

, (3.15)

which is often used in the literature (Rudd et al . 1997; Gebart 1992; Gebart et al .

1991; Gebart & Lidstr¨ om 1996; Weitzenb¨ock 1996, 1999c).

(b) Two-dimensional radial ﬂows

(i) Flows in isotropic media

For an isotropic medium, any direction is a principal direction of the permeability

tensor of the medium and any plane across the medium is a principal plane of the

permeability tensor. In this case, Darcy’s law can be rewritten as

¸

q

1

q

2

= −

1

µ

¸

k 0

0 k

¸

p

,1

p

,2

, (3.16)

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Flows through porous media 1909

(a) (b)

x

3

x

1

p

0

r

O

r

0

p

f

r

f

x

2

p

0

O

r

r

0

x

1

r

f p

f

x

2

Figure 2. A two-dimensional radial ﬂow in a horizontal plane Ox

1

x

2

ﬁlled with isotropic media.

which is substituted into equation (2.6) to give the two-dimensional Laplace equation

p

,11

+ p

,22

= 0. (3.17)

As shown in ﬁgure 2a, two-dimensional radial ﬂow in an isotropic medium is a two-

dimensional, centrosymmetric ﬂow, in which the pressure p and the ﬂow front are

functions of the polar coordinate r, and therefore the ﬂow front is a circle, as shown

in ﬁgure 2b. In a polar coordinate system, the Laplace equation (3.17) and Darcy’s

law (3.16) take, respectively, the forms

1

r

∂

∂r

r

∂p

∂r

= 0, (3.18)

q

r

= −

k

µ

∂p

∂r

(3.19)

with the boundary conditions

p = p

0

(t), r = r

0

, (3.20)

p = p

f

(t), r = r

f

. (3.21)

An integration of equation (3.18) coupled with the boundary conditions described

in equations (3.20) and (3.21) gives a solution of this radial ﬂow:

p(r) =

p

f

−p

0

ln(r

f

/r

0

)

ln

r

r

0

+ p

0

, (3.22)

from which it follows that

dp

dr

(r) =

p

f

−p

0

ln(r

f

/r

0

)

1

r

, (3.23)

dp

dr

(r

f

) =

p

f

−p

0

ln(r

f

/r

0

)

1

r

f

. (3.24)

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1910 J. Xing and others

Substituting this result into equation (3.19) gives

q

r

(r

f

) = −

k

r

µ

p

f

−p

0

ln(r

f

/r

0

)

1

r

f

, (3.25)

where k

r

= k is introduced as a notation for convenience. Because the ﬂow velocity

q

r

(r

f

) at the front of the ﬂow at r = r

f

is

q

r

(r

f

) = ε

dr

f

dt

, (3.26)

therefore

ε

dr

f

dt

= −

k

r

µ

p

f

−p

0

ln(r

f

/r

0

)

1

r

f

. (3.27)

From this it follows that

r

f

ln

r

f

r

0

dr

f

= −

k

r

εµ

(p

f

−p

0

) dt. (3.28)

Integrating this equation gives

r

f

r

0

r

f

ln

r

f

r

0

dr

f

= −

k

r

εµ

t

0

(p

f

−p

0

) dt, (3.29)

which gives

k

r

= −

¸

(r

f

)

2

2 ln

r

f

r

0

−1

+ (r

0

)

2

εµ

4

t

0

(p

f

−p

0

) dt

. (3.30)

If the injection pressure p

0

is a constant, as described in most of the references (see,

for example, Adams et al . 1986, 1988; Adams & Rebenfeld 1987, 1991a, b; Gauvin

et al . 1996; Weitzenb¨ ock 1996; Weitzenb¨ock et al . 1999a, b), equation (3.30) reduces

to the form

k

r

= −

¸

(r

f

)

2

2 ln

r

f

r

0

−1

+ (r

0

)

2

εµ

4(p

f

−p

0

)t

. (3.31)

Equation (3.31) was ﬁrst given by Adams et al . (1986), and it is now often used to

calculate the permeability of isotropic media.

(ii) Flows in anisotropic media

As shown in ﬁgure 2, it is assumed that the horizontal ﬂow plane Ox

1

x

2

is a

principal plane of an anisotropic medium and the axes x

1

and x

2

are its two principal

axes with their principal permeabilities k

(1)

and k

(2)

, respectively. According to this

assumption, Darcy’s law takes the form

q

1

= −

k

(1)

µ

∂p

∂x

1

, q

2

= −

k

(2)

µ

∂p

∂x

2

, (3.32)

which, when substituted into equation (2.6), gives the equation

k

(1)

∂

2

p

∂x

2

1

+ k

(2)

∂

2

p

∂x

2

2

= 0. (3.33)

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Flows through porous media 1911

In order to transform this equation into a standard Laplace equation, the following

coordinate transformation is applied:

¯ x

1

=

x

1

√

k

(1)

, ¯ x

2

=

x

2

√

k

(2)

. (3.34)

This transformation indicates that two diﬀerent k

(1)

and k

(2)

are used to determine

the lengths along the x

1

- and x

2

-directions, respectively. Obviously, both of the

coordinates ¯ x

1

and ¯ x

2

are non-dimensional. From this transformation, it follows that

∂p

∂x

1

=

1

√

k

(1)

∂p

∂¯ x

1

,

∂

2

p

∂x

2

1

=

1

k

(1)

∂

2

p

∂¯ x

2

1

, (3.35)

∂p

∂x

2

=

1

√

k

(2)

∂p

∂¯ x

2

,

∂

2

p

∂x

2

2

=

1

k

(2)

∂

2

p

∂¯ x

2

2

. (3.36)

A substitution of these equations (3.35) and (3.36) into equations (3.32) and (3.33)

gives

¯ q

1

=

q

1

√

k

(1)

= −

1

µ

∂p

∂¯ x

1

, ¯ q

2

=

q

1

√

k

(2)

= −

1

µ

∂p

∂¯ x

2

, (3.37)

¯ q

r

= −

1

µ

∂p

∂¯ r

, (3.38)

∂

2

p

∂¯ x

2

1

+

∂

2

p

∂¯ x

2

2

= 0, (3.39)

which describes a quasi-isotropic system. In this quasi-isotropic system, the ﬂow rate

¯ q has dimensions of s

−1

and the permeability

¯

k is non-dimensional with a constant

value 1 for the entire anisotropic medium. The pressure p has its normal dimen-

sion N m

−2

.

Under a polar coordinate system, equation (3.39) describing a quasi-isotropic radial

ﬂow in anisotropic media takes the form

1

¯ r

∂

∂¯ r

¯ r

∂p

∂¯ r

= 0, (3.40)

with the boundary conditions

p = p

0

(t), ¯ r = ¯ r

0

, (3.41)

p = p

f

(t), ¯ r = ¯ r

f

, (3.42)

where

¯ r =

¯ x

2

1

+ ¯ x

2

2

. (3.43)

A comparison between equations (3.18)–(3.21) and (3.38), (3.40)–(3.42) gives the

solution of equations (3.38), (3.40)–(3.42) as

p(¯ r) =

p

f

−p

0

ln(¯ r

f

/¯ r

0

)

ln

¯ r

¯ r

0

+ p

0

. (3.44)

Using the same mathematical process as for equations (3.25) and (3.30), it can be

shown that

¯ q

r

(¯ r

f

) = −

¯

k

r

µ

p

f

−p

0

ln(¯ r

f

/¯ r

0

)

1

¯ r

f

(3.45)

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1912 J. Xing and others

r

f

b

X

2

inlet flow

boundary

flow front

O

r

0

(X

1

0

, X

2

0

)

a

X

1

Figure 3. The ﬂow front of anisotropic media in the plane OX

1

X

2

.

and

¯

k

r

= −

(¯ r

f

)

2

¸

2 ln

¯ r

f

¯ r

0

−1

+ (¯ r

0

)

2

εµ

4

t

0

(p

f

−p

0

) dt

=

¯

k = 1, (3.46)

in which

¯

k

r

= 1 is obtained from equation (3.38), and where an overline denotes a

quantity related to quasi-isotropic radial ﬂows.

From equation (3.43) it follows that

¯ r

f

=

(¯ x

f

1

)

2

+ (¯ x

f

2

)

2

, ¯ r

0

=

(¯ x

0

1

)

2

+ (¯ x

0

2

)

2

, (3.47)

which can further be rewritten as

(x

f

1

)

2

k

(1)

(¯ r

f

)

2

+

(x

f

2

)

2

k

(2)

(¯ r

f

)

2

= 1,

(x

0

1

)

2

k

(1)

(¯ r

0

)

2

+

(x

0

2

)

2

k

(2)

(¯ r

0

)

2

= 1. (3.48)

Equation (3.48) shows that the ﬂow front is an ellipse with the semi-axes

√

k

(1)

¯ r

f

and

√

k

(1)

¯ r

f

, as shown in ﬁgure 3. The inlet ﬂow boundary is another ellipse with

the semi-axes

√

k

(1)

¯ r

0

and

√

k

(1)

¯ r

0

.

(c) Three-dimensional radial ﬂows

On substituting equation (2.1) into equation (2.6), it is obtained that

k

ij

p

,ji

= 0, (3.49)

which is the equation satisﬁed by the pressure in a three-dimensional ﬂow. If the

principal-axis reference system OX

1

X

2

X

3

is used, the permeability k

ij

takes the

form k

ij

= k

(I)

δ

ij

(I = i), and equation (3.49) reduces to

k

(I)

p

,ii

= 0, I = i. (3.50)

For isotropic media, k

(I)

= k, this equation further reduces to Laplace’s equation

in three-dimensional space, i.e.

p

,jj

= 0. (3.51)

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Flows through porous media 1913

X

1

r

f

X

3

r

r

0

O

X

2

Figure 4. Three-dimensional radial ﬂows in isotropic media.

(i) Moving-coordinate systems

In the three-dimensional case, a moving-coordinate system Ox

1

x

2

x

3

is chosen to

study the gravitational eﬀect. The transformation between the coordinate systems

Ox

1

x

2

x

3

and Ox

1

x

2

x

3

is

x

i

= x

i

+ tρgδ

3i

, (3.52)

from which it is obtained that

∂(·)

∂x

i

=

∂(·)

∂x

i

, (3.53)

q

i

=

dx

i

dt

=

dx

i

dt

+ q

g

δ

3i

, (3.54)

where q

g

= −ρg represents the ﬂow rate caused by the gravitational eﬀect. Under

this moving-coordinate system, equations (2.1) and (2.4) are transformed to

q

i

= −

k

ij

µ

p

,j

(3.55)

and

q

i

= ˆ q

i

(t) −q

g

δ

3i

, (3.56)

respectively, but the rest of the governing equations remain unchanged. Physically, q

i

represents the ﬂow velocity relative to the moving-coordinate system with a velocity

q

g

δ

3i

. Therefore, the gravitation does not aﬀect the picture of the relative ﬂow to

this moving system. In this section, all equations are written relative to this moving

system. For convenience of notation, the primes of variables will be neglected, but

are understood in the following sections.

(ii) Flows in isotropic media

As shown in ﬁgure 4, a three-dimensional radial ﬂow relative to the moving-

coordinate system is a centrosymmetric ﬂow in which the pressure p is a function of

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1914 J. Xing and others

a spherical polar coordinate r and the ﬂow front is a sphere about the origin of the

moving system. Under the spherical polar coordinate system, equation (3.51) has the

form

1

r

2

∂

∂r

r

2

∂p

∂r

= 0. (3.57)

The boundary conditions for this radial ﬂow are represented by

p = p

0

(t), r = r

0

, (3.58)

p = p

f

(t), r = r

f

. (3.59)

Integrating equations (3.57)–(3.59) results in

p(r) = −

r

0

r

f

(p

f

−p

0

)

r(r

f

−r

0

)

+

p

f

r

f

−p

0

r

0

r

f

−r

0

. (3.60)

Its derivative with respect to r is

∂p

∂r

(r) =

r

0

r

f

(p

f

−p

0

)

r

2

(r

f

−r

0

)

, (3.61)

which has a value at r = r

f

of

∂p

∂r

(r

f

) =

r

0

(p

f

−p

0

)

r

f

(r

f

−r

0

)

. (3.62)

Substituting this result into Darcy’s law (3.55) for the isotropic-media case, i.e. k

ij

=

k

r

δ

ij

, and using the tensor transformation rule (see Fung 1977), we obtain the ﬂow

rate along the r-direction at the ﬂow front r = r

f

:

q

r

(r

f

) = β

ri

q

i

= −

k

r

µ

∂p

∂r

= −

k

r

µ

r

0

(p

f

−p

0

)

r

f

(r

f

−r

0

)

, (3.63)

where k

r

= k and β

ri

represents the directional cosine of the angle between the

r-direction and the x

i

-axis direction. As was the case in equation (3.26) in two-

dimensional radial ﬂows, it can be seen that

ε

dr

f

dt

= −

k

r

µ

r

0

(p

f

−p

0

)

r

f

(r

f

−r

0

)

, (3.64)

from which it follows that

r

f

(r

f

−r

0

) dr

f

= −

k

r

µε

r

0

(p

f

−p

0

) dt. (3.65)

Integrating this equation gives

r

f

r

0

r

f

(r

f

−r

0

) dr

f

= −

k

r

µε

t

0

r

0

(p

f

−p

0

) dt, (3.66)

which gives

k

r

= −

µε[

1

3

(r

f

)

3

−

1

2

r

0

(r

f

)

2

+

1

6

(r

0

)

3

]

r

0

t

0

(p

f

−p

0

) dt

. (3.67)

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Flows through porous media 1915

g

X

3

vertical

direction

c

r

f

θ

O r

0

r

a

X

1

b

X

2

Figure 5. Three-dimensional radial ﬂows in anisotropic media.

(iii) Flows in anisotropic media

For this case, as shown in ﬁgure 5, it is convenient to use the principal-axis system

under which the pressure satisﬁes equation (3.50), that is

k

(1)

∂

2

p

∂x

2

1

+ k

(2)

∂

2

p

∂x

2

2

+ k

(3)

∂

2

p

∂x

2

3

= 0. (3.68)

An application of the coordinate transformation

¯ x

i

=

x

i

√

k

(I)

(3.69)

transforms equation (3.68) to a standard Laplace equation

∂

2

p

∂¯ x

2

1

+

∂

2

p

∂¯ x

2

2

+

∂

2

p

∂¯ x

2

3

= 0, (3.70)

which describes a quasi-isotropic system. Under a spherical polar coordinate system,

a quasi-isotropic radial ﬂow in anisotropic media can be deﬁned as follows

1

¯ r

2

∂

∂¯ r

¯ r

2

∂p

∂¯ r

= 0, (3.71)

p = p

0

, ¯ r = ¯ r

0

,

p = p

f

, ¯ r = ¯ r

f

,

where

¯ r =

¯ x

j

¯ x

j

,

¯ r

f

=

¯ x

f

j

¯ x

f

j

,

¯ r

0

=

¯ x

0

j

¯ x

0

j

.

⎫

⎪

⎪

⎪

⎬

⎪

⎪

⎪

⎭

(3.72)

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1916 J. Xing and others

A comparison between equations (3.57)–(3.59) and (3.71) gives the solution of equa-

tion (3.71) as

p(¯ r) = −

¯ r

0

¯ r

f

(p

f

−p

0

)

¯ r(¯ r

f

− ¯ r

0

)

+

p

f

¯ r

f

−p

0

¯ r

0

¯ r

f

− ¯ r

0

. (3.73)

The ﬂow rates q

i

under this principal-axis system can be obtained by using equa-

tions (3.55) and (3.72) as well as the tensor transformation rule, that is

q

i

= −

k

(I)

µ

∂p

∂x

i

= −

k

(I)

µ

∂p

∂¯ r

∂¯ r

∂¯ x

j

∂¯ x

j

∂x

i

. (3.74)

From equations (3.72) and (3.69), it follows that

∂¯ r

∂¯ x

j

=

¯ x

j

¯ r

= β

¯ rj

,

∂¯ x

j

∂x

i

=

δ

ij

√

k

(I)

,

⎫

⎪

⎪

⎬

⎪

⎪

⎭

(3.75)

which are substituted into equation (3.74) to obtain

¯ q

i

=

q

i

√

k

(I)

= −

1

µ

∂p

∂¯ r

β

¯ ri

(3.76)

and

¯ q

¯ r

= β

¯ ri

¯ q

i

= −

1

µ

∂p

∂¯ r

β

¯ ri

β

¯ ri

= −

1

µ

∂p

∂¯ r

, (3.77)

where β

¯ ri

β

¯ ri

= 1 has been introduced. From equations (3.73) and (3.77), it follows

that

¯ q

¯ r

(¯ r

f

) = −

¯

k

r

µ

¯ r

0

(p

f

−p

0

)

¯ r

f

(¯ r

f

− ¯ r

0

)

, (3.78)

ε

d¯ r

f

dt

= −

¯

k

r

µ

¯ r

0

(p

f

−p

0

)

¯ r

f

(¯ r

f

− ¯ r

0

)

, (3.79)

¯

k

r

= −

µε[

1

3

(¯ r

f

)

3

−

1

2

¯ r

0

(¯ r

f

)

2

+

1

6

(¯ r

0

)

3

]

¯ r

0

t

0

(p

f

−p

0

) dt

= 1. (3.80)

From equations (3.69) and (3.72), the following two ellipsoid equations are obtained:

(x

f

1

)

2

k

(1)

(¯ r

f

)

2

+

(x

f

2

)

2

k

(2)

(¯ r

f

)

2

+

(x

f

3

)

2

k

(3)

(¯ r

f

)

2

= 1, (3.81)

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Flows through porous media 1917

p

0

(

t

)

−

p

f

O

t

0

t

1

t

2

t

I−1

t

I

t

N−1

t

t

N

=

t

f

P =

0

t

f

(p

0

(t)−p

f

)dt

∫

t

Figure 6. The resin injection pressure impulse P.

and

(x

0

1

)

2

k

(1)

(¯ r

0

)

2

+

(x

0

2

)

2

k

(2)

(¯ r

0

)

2

+

(x

0

3

)

2

k

(3)

(¯ r

0

)

2

= 1. (3.82)

These describe the ﬂow front and the inlet ﬂow boundary, respectively.

4. Application to permeability measurement

The theoretical results developed in this paper provide a basis for measuring per-

meability of a prescribed porous medium. The advantages of the new theory devel-

oped herein over the current methods reported in the literature are outlined below.

Detailed descriptions and practical experimental examples using these theoretical

results are given in the thesis by Xing (2001).

(a) Variable-pressure boundary condition

In basic solutions for the porosity problems subjected to a variable-pressure con-

dition, there is no need to keep the injection pressure p

0

as a constant, as required

by the references mentioned in the introduction. In a practical experiment, the front

boundary of the ﬂow is open to air and therefore the pressure p

f

on the ﬂow front

is the atmospheric pressure, which can be considered as a constant. Recording the

time history of the injection pressure p

0

(t) relative to the atmospheric pressure p

f

and calculating the injection pressure impulse P,

P =

t

f

0

(p

0

(t) −p

f

) dt, (4.1)

as shown in ﬁgure 6, the permeability parameters can be obtained by the developed

formulations given in this paper, such as equations (3.14), (3.30) and (3.67), etc.

Figure 7 shows the six practical records of injection pressures measured at the

injection point for the experiments on the twill weave fabric RC 600. These experi-

ments were completed by using the RTM facility of the University of Southampton

(Xing 2001). Table 1 lists the averaged permeability values of the six measurements

for three materials in comparison with the values from corresponding experiments

with constant injection pressures. These diﬀerences are acceptable in engineering.

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1918 J. Xing and others

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

120 180 240

0

0.5

1.5

2.5

120 160 200

i

n

l

e

t

p

r

e

s

s

u

r

e

(

b

a

r

)

time (s)

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

time (s)

0 60

1.0

2.0

40 80

0

0.5

1.5

2.5

120 160 200

1.0

2.0

40 80

0 120 160 200 40 80

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

120 180 240 0 60

0

0.5

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.5

3.0

120 180 240 60

Figure 7. Inlet pressures in six variable-pressure experiments of RC 600.

(b) The moving-coordinate system

As discussed in § 3, gravity produces a ﬂow rate q

g

i

= −ρgδ

3i

at each point in the

porous medium. In a two- or three-dimensional radial-ﬂow experiment, this ﬂow rate

causes a translation tρg of the all-wet domain along the gravitational direction. The

ﬂow relative to the moving-coordinate system is not aﬀected by the gravity. There-

fore, the form of the wet domain is not aﬀected by the gravity, but only a translation

tρg along the g-direction. That is, the centre O of the ellipsoid in ﬁgure 5 moves a

distance tρg along the g-direction from the injection port of the experiment. This

new observation provides a basis to avoid the gravitational eﬀect on the permeability

measurements.

5. Conclusion

Analytical solutions for several porosity problems of channel or radial ﬂows sub-

jected to a variable-pressure boundary condition are developed in this paper. If the

boundary pressure is ﬁxed as a constant, then the developed solutions reduce to the

classical forms given in the current references. These analytical solutions present a

theoretical basis of permeability measurement by using variable inlet pressures and

permit greater ﬂexibility in experimentation, which could be used to model ‘real-life’

situations. By measuring the real variable time histories of the inlet pressures and the

ﬂow-front positions in an experiment, the principal permeability can be calculated

by means of the theoretical solutions presented in this paper. Even in the case where

the recorded time history of the inlet pressure is a constant, the variable-pressure

formulation can provide the same results without adding to the extra calculation

Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A (2004)

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Flows through porous media 1919

Table 1. The averaged measured permeability values (×10

−12

m

2

) and diﬀerences

constant variable diﬀerence

inlet pressure inlet pressure (%)

. .. . . .. . . .. .

ﬁbre k

(1)

k

(2)

k

(1)

k

(2)

k

(1)

k

(2)

U750-450 1433 1399 1498 1454 4 4

RC 600 49 21 51 25 4 19

E-LPb 567 65 312 70 326 7 4

task. The moving-coordinate system with a velocity equal to the ﬂow rate caused

by the gravitation is chosen to study porosity ﬂows, which provides a convenient

approach to eliminate the gravitational eﬀect on the ﬂow picture form in perme-

ability measurement experiments. More details can be found in the thesis by Xing

(2001).

Nomenclature

i, j, k tensor subscripts (= 1, 2, 3), obeying the summation convention

(·)

,i

= ∂(·)/∂x

i

(·)

,t

= ∂(·)/∂t

g acceleration due to gravity

k

ij

permeability tensor

k

(I)

principal permeability coeﬃcients, I = 1, 2, 3

p ﬂuid pressure

p

,i

pressure gradient vector

p

0

injection pressure

p

f

ﬂow-front pressure

q

i

ﬂow-velocity vector

t time

δ

ij

Kronecker delta

ε eﬀective porosity

µ viscosity of a ﬂuid

ρ density of a ﬂuid

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