Messel Travel Bursary recipient, Anelechi Ibekwe, reports

12 July 2017

12 July 2017

Anelechi Ibekwe was awarded a Messel Travel Bursary for a research visit to Loughborough University, UK. Here he reports on the training he received and how this helped him further his knowledge and research.

My research is focused on measuring in situ (microscopic) contact angles for geological porous media using X-ray micro Computed tomography as well as measure bulk (macroscopic) contact angles for microscope glass substrates, at the same solid surface conditions.

Using novel surface texturing methods, I have generated surface roughness on glass spheres (laboratory model of grains) as well microscope glass substrates. The purpose of my trip therefore, was to carry out bulk air/water/glass contact angle measurements on one smooth and two model substrates of different roughness variation, as well as supplementary measurements of air/water interfacial tension. The bulk contact angle measurements were carried out using a contact angle goniometer (DataPhysics OCA 20) housed at the department of materials science, Loughborough University, United Kingdom. The corresponding in situ contact angle experiments were performed using an X-ray micro-CT facility housed at the school of engineering, University of Aberdeen.

During the visit, I was trained by the resident expert on how to use the contact angle goniometer to perform the contact angle experiments. In addition, I was also trained on the use of the OCA 20 software for post processing of the images captured using the goniometer. The resident expert was very helpful all through my time in the lab - and his kindness and friendliness made my time all the more fulfilling. Also, I had quite a bit of meaningful and useful discussions with him regarding surface texturing and wettability for which he was more than happy to provide me with answers.

The results generated from my visit demonstrates the impact of surface roughness on the bulk contact angles, wherefore, Wenzel’s model of homogenous wetting was clearly observed. My research coupled with the results of my visit has implications for interface science, carbon capture/storage, as well as enhanced oil/gas recovery. In addition, the deliverables from my project has the potential to deliver cutting-edge engineering and scientific results of importance to both the academia and oil/gas industry.

I am most grateful to SCI for providing me with financial support through the Messel travel bursary. The experience was enriching and most rewarding as I both observed first-hand, and also demonstrated the application of the Dataphysics OCA 20 contact angle goniometer. I am also grateful to my supervisors for their support and for suggesting the visit. I am most certain that the knowledge gained will be beneficial to my future career.

Anelechi Ibekwe
PhD student
University of Edinburgh

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