Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering

First Advisor

Hooman Vahedi Tafreshi


Capillarity is a physical phenomenon that acts as a driving force in the displacement of one fluid by another within a porous medium. This mechanism operates on the micro and nanoscale, and is responsible for countless observable events. This can include applications such as absorption in various hygiene products, self-cleaning surfaces such as water beading up and rolling off a specially-coated windshield, anti-icing, and water management in fuel cells, among many others.

The most significant research into capillarity has occurred within the last century or so. Traditional formulations for fluid absorption include the Lucas–Washburn model for porous media, which is a 1-D model that reduces a porous medium to a series of capillary tubes of some educated equivalent radius. The Richards equation allows for modeling fluid saturation as a function of time and space, but requires additional information on capillary pressure as a function of saturation (pc(S)) in order to solve for absorption. In both approaches, the surface can only possess one fluid affinity. This thesis focuses on developing capillary models necessary for predicting fluid absorption and repulsion in fibrous media. Some of the work entails utilizing approximations based on pore space available to the fluid, which allows for capillary pressure simulation in media with arbitrary fiber orientation. This thesis also presents models for tracking the fluid interface in fibrous media and coatings with simpler geometries such as horizontally and vertically aligned fibers and orthogonal fiber layers. This method hinges on solving for the true fluid interface shape between the fibers based on the balance of forces across it, ensuring the accurate location and total content of fluid in the medium, and therefore accurate pc(S). Using this approach also allows, for the first time, fibers of different fluid affinities to exist in the same structure, to examine their combined influence on fluid behavior. The models in this thesis focus mainly on absorbent fabrics and superhydrophobic coatings, but can be easily expanded for use in other applications such as water filtration from fuel, fluid transport and storage in microchannels, polymer impregnation in fiber-reinforced composite materials, among countless others.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission