Foam trapping in a 3D porous medium: in situ observations by ultra-fast X-ray microtomography
One of the challenges in the study of foam transport in 3D porous media is to have an adequate spatial and temporal resolution to get a better understanding of the local phenomenon at the pore scale in a non-destructive way. We present an experimental study in which ultra-fast X-ray microtomography is used to investigate the foam trapping while the foam is flowing in a 3D porous medium. Preformed aqueous foam is injected into a rotating cell containing a 3D granular medium made of silica grains. The use of rotating seals allows the cell to rotate continuously at a rate of one revolution per second, compatible with the fast X-ray tomography at SOLEIL synchrotron. We visualize the foam flow and track the trapping of bubbles with an acquisition time of about one second and a spatial resolution of a few microns (pixel size of one micron). This allows us to extract the characteristics and reliable statistics about trapped bubbles inside the granular medium and to observe their local behavior. With this setup and technique we obtain access to the dynamics of foam trapping during the flow and the texture variations of the foam in the trapped zones. These local trapping events are well correlated with the macroscopical measurement of the pressure gradient over the cell.