Improving the interpretation of mercury porosimetry data using computerised X-ray tomography and mean-field DFT

S.P. Rigby, P.I. Chigada, J. Wang, S.K. Wilkinson, H. Bateman, B. Al-Duri, J. Wood, S. Bakalis, T. Miri

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Despite widespread use of the technique for a long time, the proper interpretation of mercury porosimetry data, particularly retraction curves, remains uncertain. In this work, the usefulness of two complementary techniques, mean-field density functional theory (MF-DFT) and micro-computerized X-ray tomography (micro-CXT), for aiding interpretation of ambiguous mercury porosimetry data has been explored. MF-DFT has been used to show that a specific, idiosyncratic form for the top of the mercury intrusion and extrusion curves is probably associated with a particular network structure where the smallest pores only form through connections between larger pores. CXT has been used to study the pore potential theory of hysteresis and entrapment directly using a model porous material with spatially varying pore wetting properties. CXT has also been used to directly study the percolation properties, and entrapment of mercury, within a macroporous pellet. Particular percolation pathways across the heart of the pellet have been directly mapped. The forms of entrapped mercury ganglia have been directly observed and related to retraction mechanisms. A combination of CXT and mercury porosimetry can be used to map spatial variation in pore neck sizes below the spatial resolution of imaging. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2328-2339
Number of pages12
JournalChemical Engineering Science
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011


  • Voidage
  • Percolation
  • Catalyst support
  • Phase change
  • Porous media
  • Micro-computerized X-ray tomography


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