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I. Similarity Solutions of the Equations of Three Phase Flow through Porous Media. II. The Fingering Problem in a Hele-Shaw Cell


Romero, Louis Anthony (1982) I. Similarity Solutions of the Equations of Three Phase Flow through Porous Media. II. The Fingering Problem in a Hele-Shaw Cell. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/MR6S-7C08.



In part I of this thesis similarity solutions to the equations of three phase flow through porous media are examined. The three phases are water, steam, and a noncondensing phase, most likely oil. The main purpose of analyzing such flows is to gain understanding of the steam flooding of oil fields.

Provided steam is being injected at a higher pressure than the initial field pressure, it is shown that there will always be at least two saturation shocks. As one increases the pressure of the injected steam several regimes are encountered; first the flow develops a region where all the steam is completely condensed, then the position of two of the shocks are interchanged, and finally one of the shocks grows weaker and is eventually replaced by an expansion fan.

In sections 12 and 13 the stability of steadily moving condensation fronts in porous media is analyzed. For one special problem it is found that the sign of the jump in pressure gradient at the interface determines whether the interfaces are stable or unstable. This result is applied with some caution to the similarity solutions found in the earlier sections.


Recently McLean analyzed the shapes of fingers in a Hele-Shaw cell, including the effects of surface tension. His work resolved the question of the uniqueness of the shapes first brought up by Saffman and Taylor in their analysis that did not include surface tension. It is however felt that there are still unresolved problems.

In determining the pressure jump across an interface there are two principal radii of curvature. McLean only took into account the effect of the larger of these, assuming that the other was constant along the outline of the finger. Unless the smaller radius is very nearly constant, it should in fact give a larger contribution to the jump in pressure. In this thesis the effect of this smaller radius of curvature is modelled by assuming that it is a function of the normal velocity of the mean two dimensional surface of the finger.

It is found that if one only takes into account the smaller radius of curvature, the problem is not uniquely determined, as in the case with no surface tension at all. When both radii of curvature are taken into account, the effect of the smaller radius of curvature is to modify the finger shapes in a way that is qualitatively in agreement with experimental data. Also, McLean's results are checked by an independent numerical scheme, and the results are found to be in excellent agreement. Using both methods of solution a second solution branch other than that described by McLean was also found.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:Applied Mathematics
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Engineering and Applied Science
Major Option:Applied Mathematics
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Saffman, Philip G.
Thesis Committee:
  • Saffman, Philip G. (chair)
  • Kreiss, Heinz-Otto
  • Whitham, Gerald Beresford
  • Keller, Herbert Bishop
  • Leal, L. Gary
Defense Date:4 January 1982
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Control Data CorporationUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-09082006-131345
Persistent URL:
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URLURL TypeDescription adapted for Appendix E. adapted for Appendix F.
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:3385
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:26 Sep 2006
Last Modified:25 Jun 2020 23:54

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