Pore-scale and continuum simulations of solute transport micromodel benchmark experiments

M. Oostrom, Y. Mehmani, P. Romero-Gomez, Y. Tang, H. Liu, H. Yoon, Q. Kang, V. Joekar-Niasar, M. T. Balhoff, T. Dewers, G. D. Tartakovsky, E. A. Leist, N. J. Hess, W. A. Perkins, C. L. Rakowski, M. C. Richmond, J. A. Serkowski, C. J. Werth, A. J. Valocchi, T. W. WietsmaC. Zhang

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53 Scopus citations


Four sets of nonreactive solute transport experiments were conducted with micromodels. Each set consisted of three experiments with one variable, i.e., flow velocity, grain diameter, pore-aspect ratio, and flow-focusing heterogeneity. The data sets were offered to pore-scale modeling groups to test their numerical simulators. Each set consisted of two learning experiments, for which all results were made available, and one challenge experiment, for which only the experimental description and base input parameters were provided. The experimental results showed a nonlinear dependence of the transverse dispersion coefficient on the Peclet number, a negligible effect of the pore-aspect ratio on transverse mixing, and considerably enhanced mixing due to flow focusing. Five pore-scale models and one continuum-scale model were used to simulate the experiments. Of the pore-scale models, two used a pore-network (PN) method, two others are based on a lattice Boltzmann (LB) approach, and one used a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) technique. The learning experiments were used by the PN models to modify the standard perfect mixing approach in pore bodies into approaches to simulate the observed incomplete mixing. The LB and CFD models used the learning experiments to appropriately discretize the spatial grid representations. For the continuum modeling, the required dispersivity input values were estimated based on published nonlinear relations between transverse dispersion coefficients and Peclet number. Comparisons between experimental and numerical results for the four challenge experiments show that all pore-scale models were all able to satisfactorily simulate the experiments. The continuum model underestimated the required dispersivity values, resulting in reduced dispersion. The PN models were able to complete the simulations in a few minutes, whereas the direct models, which account for the micromodel geometry and underlying flow and transport physics, needed up to several days on supercomputers to resolve the more complex problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-879
Number of pages23
JournalComputational Geosciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computers in Earth Sciences
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics


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