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Journal Articles Physical Review E Year : 2016

Water retention against drying with soft-particle suspensions in porous media

Emmanuel Keita
Pamela Françoise Faure
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  • PersonId : 993014
Stéphane Rodts
David A. Weitz
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  • PersonId : 964491
Philippe Coussot
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  • PersonId : 1101142


Polymers suspended in granular packings have a significant impact on water retention, which is important for soil irrigation and the curing of building materials. Whereas the drying rate remains constant during a long period for pure water due to capillary flow providing liquid water to the evaporating surface, we show that it is not the case for a suspension made of soft polymeric particles called microgels: the drying rate decreases immediately and significantly. By measuring the spatial water saturation and concentration of suspended particles with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), we can explain these original trends and model the process. In low viscous fluids, the accumulation of particles at the free surface induces a recession of the air-liquid interface. A simple model, assuming particle transport and accumulation below the sample free surface, is able to reproduce our observations without any fitting parameters. The high viscosity of the microgel suspension inhibits flow towards the free surface and a drying front appears. We show that water vapor diffusion over a defined and increasing length sets the drying rate. These results and model allow for better controlling the drying and water retention in granular porous materials.


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Dates and versions

hal-02136443 , version 1 (22-05-2019)



Emmanuel Keita, Thomas E. Kodger, Pamela Françoise Faure, Stéphane Rodts, David A. Weitz, et al.. Water retention against drying with soft-particle suspensions in porous media. Physical Review E , 2016, 94 (3), ⟨10.1103/PhysRevE.94.033104⟩. ⟨hal-02136443⟩
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