A closer look: high-resolution pore-scale simulations of solute transport and mixing through porous media columns
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Mixing is pivotal to conservative and reactive transport behaviors in porous media. Methods for investigating mixing processes include mathematical models, laboratory experiments and numerical simulations. The latter have been historically limited by the extreme computational resources needed for solving flow and transport at the microscopic scale within the complex pore structure of a three-dimensional porous medium, while dealing with a sufficiently large domain in order to generate meaningful emergent continuum-scale observables. We present the results of such a set of virtual column experiments, which have been conducted by taking advantage of modern high-performance computing infrastructure and Computational Fluid Dynamics software capable of massively parallel simulations. The computational approach has important advantages such as full control over the experimental conditions as well as high spatial and temporal resolution of measurements. Hydrodynamic dispersion results agree with the empirical and theoretical literature and link dispersivity to median grain size, while elucidating the impact of grain size variability on the critical Péclet number. Reactive transport results also indicate that the relative degree of incomplete mixing is related to the granular material’s mean hydraulic radius and not directly to the median grain size. When compared to a well-known laboratory experiment with similar configuration, less incomplete mixing is observed in our simulations. We offer a partial explanation for this discrepancy, by showing how an apparent nonlinear absorbance–concentration relationship may induce laboratory measurement error in the presence of local concentration fluctuations.
The final publication is available at Springer via http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11242-021-01721-z.
CitationSole-Mari, G.; Bolster, D.; Fernandez, D. A closer look: high-resolution pore-scale simulations of solute transport and mixing through porous media columns. "Transport in porous media", 2022, p. 1-22.