Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, Vol.260, No.2, 385-397, 2003
Three-phase capillary entry conditions in pores of noncircular cross-section
In this work we challenge the assumption that the capillary entry pressures for displacements in three-phase flow are the same as those in two-phase flow. Using an energy balance, as derived by R.P. Mayer and R.A. Stowe (J. Colloid Interface Sci. 20 (1965) 893-911) and H.M. Princen (J. Colloid Interface Sci. 30 (1969) 69-75; 30 (1969) 359-371; 34 (1970) 171-184) for two-phase flow, we derive a general formula for determination of the capillary entry pressures for piston-like displacement of two bulk phases in a pore where a third phase may also be present. The method applies to capillaries of angular cross-section and uniform but arbitrary wettability. To use this method we have determined all possible underlying phase occupancies in cross-sections on either side of the main terminal meniscus, in particular the presence of corner arc menisci (AMs). Indeed, the capillary entry pressures for piston-like displacements depend on the pressure in the remaining third phase if the cross-sectional fluid configurations contain this phase. This dependence only vanishes when layers of the intermediate-wetting phase completely separate the wetting and the non-wetting phases. The complexity of the corresponding equations and the quantitative effects are studied using two different geometries, the equilateral triangle and the rhombus. The main difference is that the latter geometry has unequal corners, which may carry different AMs. We have carried out a limited sensitivity study with respect to the effect of wettability, the spreading coefficient of the intermediate-wetting phase, and the aspect ratio of the principal radii of the rhombus. (C) 2003 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.