Novel methods for measuring air-water interfacial area in unsaturated porous media

Mark L. Brusseau, Asma El Ouni, Juliana B. Araujo, Hua Zhong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Interfacial partitioning tracer tests (IPTT) are used to measure air-water interfacial area for unsaturated porous media. The standard IPTT method involves conducting tests wherein an aqueous surfactant solution is introduced into a packed column under unsaturated flow conditions. Surfactant-induced drainage has been observed to occur for this method in some cases, which can complicate data analysis and impart uncertainty to the measured values. Two novel alternative approaches for conducting IPTTs are presented herein that are designed in part to prevent surfactant-induced drainage. The two methods are termed the dual-surfactant IPTT (IPTT-DS) and the residual-air IPTT (IPTT-RA). The two methods were used to measure air-water interfacial areas for two natural porous media. System monitoring during the tests revealed no measurable surfactant-induced drainage. The measured interfacial areas compared well to those obtained with the standard IPTT method conducted in such a manner that surfactant-induced drainage was prevented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)208-213
Number of pages6
StatePublished - May 1 2015


  • Air-water interface
  • Fluid-fluid interface
  • Partitioning tracer
  • Tracer test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


Dive into the research topics of 'Novel methods for measuring air-water interfacial area in unsaturated porous media'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this