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ESE Seminar - Martin J. Blunt: Flow in Porous Media in the Energy Transition

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Event Details:

Martin J. Blunt

Department of Earth Science and Engineering
Imperial College, London

This meeting is in Room 104 and can also be viewed in Room 014


The presentation will review recent research on flow in porous media at Imperial College London.  I will first explain how flow in porous media should be viewed as a scientific discipline in its own right, freed from application-specific silos.  I will then frame the importance of the subject in the light of the energy transition, and briefly describe how this has led to an evolution of both teaching and research at Imperial away from fossil fuel extraction.

I will highlight the use of high-resolution three-dimensional X-ray imaging of porous media and the fluids within them to provide unprecedented insights into flow behavior.  I will describe how both pore structure and wettability govern flow and trapping.  The concept of Gaussian curvature of fluid menisci and minimal surfaces will be introduced to show how processes for optimal recovery, and trapping, can be designed.  The presentation will be illustrated with applications in oil recovery, carbon dioxide storage, and the design of gas diffusion layers in electrolysers and fuel cells.  Finally I will describe new challenges associated with the study of hydrogen storage, and the design of packed bed reactors and heat pumps.

The aim of the presentation is to explore the very rich – and societally crucial – applications of flow in porous media, and to show how using a common scientific framework should allow us to design more effective storage and recovery processes.


Martin Blunt is a Professor of Flow in Porous Media in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London: he joined Imperial in 1999. He served as Head of the Department of Earth Science and Engineering from 2006-2011. Previous to this he was Associate Professor of Petroleum Engineering at Stanford University. Before joining Stanford in 1992, he was a research reservoir engineer with BP in Sunbury-on-Thames in the UK. He holds MA and PhD (1988) degrees in theoretical physics from Cambridge University.  He was elected Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2019.

Prof. Blunt’s work has helped transform our understanding of how fluids move underground.  This research plays a vital role in our energy transition through the better design and management of hydrocarbon production and carbon dioxide storage.  He is now extending the applications of his work to hydrogen storage, soils and agricultural processes, as well as manufactured porous materials

References and Related Papers

Flow in Porous Media in the Energy Transition
Martin J. Blunta, Qingyang Linb

Pore‑Scale Imaging and Analysis of Wettability Order, Trapping and Displacement in Three‑Phase Flow in Porous Media with Various Wettabilities
Abdulla Alhosani1 · Branko Bijeljic1 · Martin J. Blunt1,2