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Water Transfers in Sub-Micron Porous Media during Drying and Imbibition Transferts d'eau en milieux nano-poreux durant le séchage et l'imbibition

Abstract : Drying and imbibition are widely used in industry to formulate and process materials. Familiar to anyone who ever filled a sponge with water and left it to dry, or spread a coat of paint, fluid to solid transitions may affect the aspect, the integrity and the durability of the material processing. Moreover, in industry this transitional steps frequently relies on empirical techniques for the control of both of these phenomena, resulting in an overconsumption of energy. The understanding of the mechanisms behind drying and imbibition are therefore of crucial industrial stakes.Using measurement techniques such as MRI imaging or electron microscopy, we studied the physics of fluid flow within model deformable and non-deformable porous media with pore sizes ranging from a couple of millimiters to a few nanometers, during imbibition or drying.A fundamental discovery our work features is the demonstration that during convective drying, in any case, namely even down to a nanometric pore size, and even if the material shrinks or fracture during the process, the liquid distribution within a sample evolves from the competition between two phenomena. Particularly, capillary re-equilibration caused by capillary effects inducing liquid flow to equilibrate Laplace pressure throughout the partially saturated regions of the samples, and, the inward development of an apparent dry region from the surface of the sample exposed to the airflow.In details, this manuscript shows that at all time capillary-equilibration enables to maintain a homogeneous saturation within the wet region of the porous sample and two regimes may be distinguished from considerations on the drying rate and the pore size of the material. Namely, for pore sizes superior to a couple of nano meters, a first regime exhibits a high drying rate down to lower saturation with increasing pore size, followed by a second regime where a dry region develops from the sample free surface, resulting in a falling rate period. Note that deformation such as shrinkage and crack may convey the extension of the period of high rate. However, in smaller pores the small curvature of the air-water interface limits the evaporation rate from the very beginning of the process and gives rise to a progressively decreasing drying rate while a homogeneous distribution of water is maintained throughout the sample. This last piece of information emphasizes that in nano-pores capillary equilibration still occurs in a series of instantaneous scattered rearrangements of liquid throughout the sample and finally that the flowing properties of the liquid strongly differ from standard unidirectional liquid flow
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Jules Thiery. Water Transfers in Sub-Micron Porous Media during Drying and Imbibition Transferts d'eau en milieux nano-poreux durant le séchage et l'imbibition. Geophysics [physics.geo-ph]. Université Paris-Est, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016PESC1155⟩. ⟨tel-01565895⟩

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