Impact of kinetic mass transfer on free convection in a porous medium

Chunhui Lu, Liangsheng Shi, Yiming Chen, Yueqing Xie, Craig Simmons

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    9 Citations (Scopus)


    We investigate kinetic mass transfer effects on unstable density-driven flow and transport processes by numerical simulations of a modified Elder problem. The first-order dual-domain mass transfer model coupled with a variable-density-flow model is employed to describe transport behavior in porous media. Results show that in comparison to the no-mass-transfer case, a higher degree of instability and more unstable system is developed in the mass transfer case due to the reduced effective porosity and correspondingly a larger Rayleigh number (assuming permeability is independent on the mobile porosity). Given a constant total porosity, the magnitude of capacity ratio (i.e., immobile porosity/mobile porosity) controls the macroscopic plume profile in the mobile domain, while the magnitude of mass transfer timescale (i.e., the reciprocal of the mass transfer rate coefficient) dominates its evolution rate. The magnitude of capacity ratio plays an important role on the mechanism driving the mass flux into the aquifer system. Specifically, for a small capacity ratio, solute loading is dominated by the density-driven transport, while with increasing capacity ratio local mass transfer dominated solute loading may occur at later times. At significantly large times, however, both mechanisms contribute comparably to solute loading. Sherwood Number could be a nonmonotonic function of mass transfer timescale due to complicated interactions of solute between source zone, mobile zone and immobile zone in the top boundary layer, resulting in accordingly a similar behavior of the total mass. The initial assessment provides important insights into unstable density-driven flow and transport in the presence of kinetic mass transfer.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3637-3653
    Number of pages17
    JournalWater Resources Research
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - May 2016


    • elder problem
    • free convection
    • kinetic mass transfer
    • numerical simulation


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