Volume 35, N. 3

September-December 2012

Development of an Instrumented Channel for Multiphase Flow in Unsaturated Soils


Volume 35, N. 3, September-December 2012 | PDF (0 downloads)


This paper presents the development of an instrumented channel for two-dimensional multiphase flow of automotive fuels in unsaturated soils. Flow experiments were performed using water or diesel in an eolian sand at residual water saturation, a particular case of multiphase flow. Aspects such as the visual monitoring of the infiltration experiments and the great reproducibility of the developed experimental protocol can be cited as highlights of this research. The two sets of tensiometers, hydrophilic and hydrophobic, used during the diesel experiment, responded differently. While the hydrophobic tensiometer, filled with diesel, measured the full range of diesel suctions, the hydrophilic tensiometers, filled with water, responded less effectively to the passage of the diesel wetting front. Flow experiments were modeled using Philip’s equation, considering the flow in unsaturated conditions above the wetting front. The time required for the diesel wetting front to reach the tensiometers was about 8.8 times higher than for water, considering the tensiometer readings, and, about 6.1 times higher than for water considering the visual observations. These values are comparable to the ratio of fluid mobilities [(w/w)/(diesel/diesel) = 5.5] of water and diesel.

Keywords: physical modeling, unsaturated soils, multiphase flow,

Submitted on January 20, 2012.
Final Acceptance on January 21, 2013.
Discussion open until April 30, 2013.