Foam-improved oil recovery: Modelling the effect of an increase in injection pressure.
Microscale models of foam structure traditionally incorporate a balance between bubble pressures and surface tension forces associated with curvature of bubble films. In particular, models for flowing foam microrheology have assumed this balance is maintained under the action of some externally imposed motion. Recently, however, a dynamic model for foam structure has been proposed, the viscous froth model, which balances the net effect of bubble pressures and surface tension to viscous dissipation forces: this permits the description of fast-flowing foam. This contribution examines the behavior of the viscous froth model when applied to a paradigm problem with a particularly simple geometry: namely, a two-dimensional bubble "lens." The lens consists of a channel partly filled by a bubble (known as the "lens bubble") which contacts one channel wall. An additional film (known as the "spanning film") connects to this bubble spanning the distance from the opposite channel wall. This simple structure can be set in motion and deformed out of equilibrium by applying a pressure across the spanning film: a rich dynamical behavior results. Solutions for the lens structure steadily propagating along the channel can be computed by the viscous froth model. Perturbation solutions are obtained in the limit of a lens structure with weak applied pressures, while numerical solutions are available for higher pressures. These steadily propagating solutions suggest that small lenses move faster than large ones, while both small and large lens bubbles are quite resistant to deformation, at least for weak applied back pressures. As the applied back pressure grows, the structure with the small lens bubble remains relatively stiff, while that with the large lens bubble becomes much more compliant. However, with even further increases in the applied back pressure, a critical pressure appears to exist for which the steady-state structure loses stability and unsteady-state numerical simulations show it breaks up by route of a topological transformation.