E3S Web Conf.
Volume 146, 2020The 2019 International Symposium of the Society of Core Analysts (SCA 2019)
|Number of page(s)||8|
|Section||Improved SCAL Techniques and Interpretation|
|Published online||05 February 2020|
Is contact angle a cause or an effect? – A cautionary tale
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
The most influential parameter on the behavior of two-component flow in porous media is “wettability”. When wettability is being characterized, the most frequently used parameter is the “contact angle”. When a fluid-drop is placed on a solid surface, in the presence of a second, surrounding fluid, the fluid-fluid surface contacts the solid-surface at an angle that is typically measured through the fluid-drop. If this angle is less than 90°, the fluid in the drop is said to “wet” the surface. If this angle is greater than 90°, the surrounding fluid is said to “wet” the surface. This definition is universally accepted and appears to be scientifically justifiable, at least for a static situation where the solid surface is horizontal. Recently, this concept has been extended to characterize wettability in non-static situations using high-resolution, two-dimensional digital images of multi-component systems. Using simple thought experiments and published experimental results, many of them decades old, it will be demonstrated that contact angles are not primary parameters – their values depend on many other parameters. Using these arguments, it will be demonstrated that contact angles are not the cause of wettability behavior but the effect of wettability behavior and other parameters. The result of this is that the contact angle cannot be used as a primary indicator of wettability except in very restricted situations. Furthermore, it will be demonstrated that even for the simple case of a capillary interface in a vertical tube, attempting to use simply a two-dimensional image to determine the contact angle can result in a wide range of measured values. This observation is consistent with some published experimental results. It follows that contact angles measured in two-dimensions cannot be trusted to provide accurate values and these values should not be used to characterize the wettability of the system.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2020
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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