Critical Bursts in Filtration


Particle detachment bursts during the flow of suspensions through porous media are a phenomenon that can severely affect the efficiency of deep bed filters. Despite the relevance in several industrial fields, little is known about the statistical properties and the temporal organization of these events. We present experiments of suspensions of deionized water carrying quartz particles pushed with a peristaltic pump through a filter of glass beads measuring simultaneously the pressure drop, flux, and suspension solid fraction. We find that the burst size distribution scales consistently with a power law, suggesting that we are in the presence of a novel experimental realization of a self-organized critical system. Temporal correlations are present in the time series, like in other phenomena such as earthquakes or neuronal activity bursts, and also an analog to Omori’s law can be shown. The understanding of burst statistics could provide novel insights in different fields, e.g., in the filter and petroleum industries.

Physical Review Letters