Heterogeneity, nonuniformity and anisotropy are terms which are defined in the volume-average sense. They may be defined at the level of Darcy's law in terms of permeability. Permeability, however, is more sensitive to conductance, mixing and capillary pressure than to porosity.
Heterogeneity, nonuniformity and anisotropy are defined as follows. On a macroscopic basis, they imply averaging over elemental volumes of radius e about a point in the media, where e is sufficiently large that Darcy's law can be applied for appropriate Reynolds numbers. In other words, volumes are large relative to that of a single pore. Further, e is the minimum radius that satisfies such a condition. If e is too large, certain nonidealities may be obscured by burying their effects far within the elemental volume.
Heterogeneity, nonuniformity and anisotropy are based on the probability density distribution of permeability of random macroscopic elemental volumes selected from the medium, where the permeability is expressed by the one-dimensional form of Darcy's law.
Permeability is the conductance of the medium and has direct relevance to Darcy's law. Permeability is related to the pore size distribution, since the distribution of the sizes of entrances, exits and lengths of the pore walls constitutes the primary resistance to flow. This parameter reflects the conductance of a given pore structure.
Permeability and porosity are related to each other; if the porosity is zero the permeability is zero. Although a correlation between these two parameters may exist, permeability cannot be predicted from porosity alone, since additional parameters that contain more information about the pore structure are needed. These additional parameters are tortuosity and connectivity. Permeability is a volume-averaged property for a finite but small volume of a medium. Anisotropy in natural or manmade packed media may result from particle (or grain) orientation, bedding of different sizes of particles or layering of media of different permeability. A dilemma arises when considering whether to treat a directional effect as anisotropy or as an oriented heterogeneity. In an oriented porous medium, the resistance to flow differs depending on the direction. Thus, if there is a pressure gradient between two points and a particular fluid particld is followed, unless the pressure gradient is parallel to oriented flow paths, the fluid particle will not travel from the original point to the point which one would expect. Instead, the particle will drift.
Was this article helpful?