Water (Mar 2023)

2D Microfluidic Devices for Pore-Scale Phenomena Investigation: A Review

  • Alice Massimiani,
  • Filippo Panini,
  • Simone Luigi Marasso,
  • Matteo Cocuzza,
  • Marzia Quaglio,
  • Candido Fabrizio Pirri,
  • Francesca Verga,
  • Dario Viberti

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 15, no. 6
p. 1222


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Underground porous media are complex multiphase systems, where the behavior at the macro-scale is affected by physical phenomena occurring at the pore(micro)-scale. The understanding of pore-scale fluid flow, transport properties, and chemical reactions is fundamental to reducing the uncertainties associated with the dynamic behavior, volume capacity, and injection/withdrawal efficiency of reservoirs and groundwater systems. Lately, laboratory technologies were found to be growing along with new computational tools, for the analysis and characterization of porous media. In this context, a significant contribution is given by microfluidics, which provides synthetic tools, often referred to as micromodels or microfluidic devices, able to mimic porous media networks and offer direct visualization of fluid dynamics. This work aimed to provide a review of the design, materials, and fabrication techniques of 2D micromodels applied to the investigation of multiphase flow in underground porous media. The first part of the article describes the main aspects related to the geometrical characterization of the porous media that lead to the design of micromodels. Materials and fabrication processes to manufacture microfluidic devices are then described, and relevant applications in the field are presented. In conclusion, the strengths and limitations of this approach are discussed, and future perspectives are suggested.