Prediction of preferential fluid flow in porous structures based on topological network models: Algorithm and experimental validation

Yang Ju, Peng Liu, DongShuang Zhang, JiaBin Dong, P. G. Ranjith, Chun Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The understanding and prediction of preferential fluid flow in porous media have attracted considerable attention in various engineering fields because of the implications of such flows in leading to a non-equilibrium fluid flow in the subsurface. In this study, a novel algorithm is proposed to predict preferential flow paths based on the topologically equivalent network of a porous structure and the flow resistance of flow paths. The equivalent flow network was constructed using Poiseuille’s law and the maximal inscribed sphere algorithm. The flow resistance of each path was then determined based on Darcy’s law. It was determined that fluid tends to follow paths with lower flow resistance. A computer program was developed and applied to an actual porous structure. To validate the algorithm and program, we tested and recorded two-dimensional (2D) water flow using an ablated Perspex sheet featuring the same porous structure investigated using the analytical calculations. The results show that the measured preferential flow paths are consistent with the predictions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1217–1227
Number of pages11
JournalScience China Technological Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • Darcy’s law
  • experimental validation
  • flow resistance
  • porous structure
  • preferential flow
  • topological networks

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