Flow-driven branching in a frangible porous medium

6 Jul 2020  ·  Nicholas J. Derr, David C. Fronk, Christoph A. Weber, Amala Mahadevan, Chris H. Rycroft, L. Mahadevan ·

Channel formation and branching is widely seen in physical systems where movement of fluid through a porous structure causes the spatiotemporal evolution of the medium in response to the flow, in turn causing flow pathways to evolve. We provide a simple theoretical framework that embodies this feedback mechanism in a multi-phase model for flow through a fragile porous medium with a dynamic permeability. Numerical simulations of the model show the emergence of branched networks whose topology is determined by the geometry of external flow forcing. This allows us to delineate the conditions under which splitting and/or coalescing branched network formation is favored, with potential implications for both understanding and controlling branching in soft frangible media.

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Fluid Dynamics Soft Condensed Matter 76S05 (Primary) 92C15 (Secondary)