Modeling single-phase flow and solute transport across scales




Mehmani, Yashar

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Flow and transport phenomena in the subsurface often span a wide range of length (nanometers to kilometers) and time (nanoseconds to years) scales, and frequently arise in applications of CO₂ sequestration, pollutant transport, and near-well acid stimulation. Reliable field-scale predictions depend on our predictive capacity at each individual scale as well as our ability to accurately propagate information across scales. Pore-scale modeling (coupled with experiments) has assumed an important role in improving our fundamental understanding at the small scale, and is frequently used to inform/guide modeling efforts at larger scales. Among the various methods, there often exists a trade-off between computational efficiency/simplicity and accuracy. While high-resolution methods are very accurate, they are computationally limited to relatively small domains. Since macroscopic properties of a porous medium are statistically representative only when sample sizes are sufficiently large, simple and efficient pore-scale methods are more attractive. In this work, two Eulerian pore-network models for simulating single-phase flow and solute transport are developed. The models focus on capturing two key pore-level mechanisms: a) partial mixing within pores (large void volumes), and b) shear dispersion within throats (narrow constrictions connecting the pores), which are shown to have a substantial impact on transverse and longitudinal dispersion coefficients at the macro scale. The models are verified with high-resolution pore-scale methods and validated against micromodel experiments as well as experimental data from the literature. Studies regarding the significance of different pore-level mixing assumptions (perfect mixing vs. partial mixing) in disordered media, as well as the predictive capacity of network modeling as a whole for ordered media are conducted. A mortar domain decomposition framework is additionally developed, under which efficient and accurate simulations on even larger and highly heterogeneous pore-scale domains are feasible. The mortar methods are verified and parallel scalability is demonstrated. It is shown that they can be used as “hybrid” methods for coupling localized pore-scale inclusions to a surrounding continuum (when insufficient scale separation exists). The framework further permits multi-model simulations within the same computational domain. An application of the methods studying “emergent” behavior during calcite precipitation in the context of geologic CO₂ sequestration is provided.



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