Pore-scale modeling of coupled thermal and solutal dispersion in double diffusive-advective flows through porous media

Afshari, S., Hejazi, H., and Kantzas, A.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheatmasstransfer.2019.118730

International Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 147, February 2020.


In double diffusive-advective flows through porous media, the combined effects of fluid and solid properties, pore space geometry, and flow conditions on the transport rates and distribution of the thermal and solutal fronts can be characterized by dispersion coefficients. In this study, conjugate heat and solute transport in the process of miscible displacement through porous media is studied through pore-scale numerical simulations in 2D and 3D digital representations of the unconsolidated sandpacks. The temperature and solute concentration distributions during both viscously stable and unstable displacements are obtained by solving the point equations of flow and transport on the discretized computational domains. Next, the longitudinal components of the solute and thermal dispersion coefficients are determined by fitting the effluent profiles to the analytical solutions of the advection-diffusion equations for the transport of mass and heat, respectively. The length scales of the solutal and thermal transition zones are also measured along the principal direction of the flow and then correlated with the displacement time. In stable displacements, different dispersion regimes are identified based on the magnitude of the solutal and thermal Peclet numbers. It is observed that the onset of convective spreading is different in the 2D and 3D simulation runs. In unstable displacements, the results indicate that solutal dispersion is more affected by thermo-solutal viscous fingering compared to thermal dispersion. Moreover, as the viscosity contrast across the thermal and solutal fronts increases, the dynamics of the mixing length growth gradually changes from dispersion-dominated toward fingering-dominated. Finally, the results show that two-dimensional simulation runs may not completely characterize the dispersion-related phenomena that occurs during heat and solute transfer in a real porous medium. Therefore, it is essential to conduct three-dimensional runs to capture all the underlying mechanisms contributing to the mixing and dispersion in porous media. The outcomes of this study can pave the way for an optimal design and implementation of an efficient non-isothermal miscible displacement in porous media.

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