Physical adsorption and mechanical entrapment are two major causes of polymer retention in porous media. Physical adsorption is considered an equilibrium process and is often modeled by assuming a Langmuir isotherm. The outcome is a steady state pressure response because the permeability reduction is also accounted for by adsorption. However, some experimental data show gradual increase of pressure with time, implying that polymer retention is a time-dependent process. We discuss simultaneous effect of sorption and mechanical entrapment on the polymer retention in porous media. An exact solution for 1-D flow problem for the case of constant filtration coefficient and Langmuir-sorption isotherm, including explicit formulae for breakthrough concentration and pressure drop across the core is derived. The general model with a varying filtration coefficient was successfully matched with experimental data confirming the occurrence of simultaneous sorption with deep-bed filtration during polymer flow in porous media. In the absence of mechanical entrapment, the physical adsorption causes delay in the polymer front and does not affect the polymer concentration behind the front. Addition of mechanical entrapment results in slow recovery of the injected concentration at the outlet (for a varying filtration coefficient) or reaching to a steady state concentration, which is only a fraction of the injected concentration (for a constant filtration coefficient). Accurate assessment and quantification of the polymer retention requires both pressure and effluent concentration data at the outlet of the porous medium.
- mechanical entrapment
- porous media