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Experimental evidence of chaotic mixing at pore scale in 3D porous media

Abstract : Mixing of dissolved chemical species in porous media plays a central role in many natural and industrial processes, such as contaminant transport and degradation in soils, oxygen and nitrates delivery in river beds, clogging in geothermal systems, CO2 sequestration. In particular, incomplete mixing at the pore scale may strongly affect the spatio-temporal distribution of reaction rates in soils and rocks, questioning the validity of diffusion-reaction models at the Darcy scale. Recent theoretical [1] and numerical [2] studies of flow in idealized porous media have suggested that fluid mixing may be chaotic at pore scale, hence pointing to a whole new set of models for mixing and reaction in porous media. However, so far this remained to be confirmed experimentally. Here we present experimental evidence of the chaotic nature of transverse mixing at the pore scale in three-dimensional porous media. We designed a novel experimental setup allowing high resolution pore scale imaging of the structure of a tracer plume in porous media columns consisting of 7, 10 and 20 mm glass bead packings. We conjointly used refractive index matching techniques, laser induced fluorescence and a moving laser-sheet to reconstruct the shape of a steady tracer plume as it gets deformed by the porous media flow. In this talk, we focus on the transverse behavior of mixing, that is, on the plane orthogonal to the main flow direction, in the limit of high Péclet numbers (diffusion is negligible). Moving away from the injection point, the plume cross-section turns quickly into complex, interlaced, lamellar structures. These structures elongated at an exponential rate, characteristic of a chaotic system, that can be characterized by an average Lyapunov exponent. We finally discuss the origin of this chaotic behavior and its most significant consequences for upscaling mixing and reactive transport in porous media. Reference: [1] D. R. Lester, G. Metcafle, M. G. Trefry, Physical Review Letters, 111, 174101 (2013) [2] R. Turuban, D. R. Lester, T. Le Borgne, and Y. Méheust (2017), under review.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, March 14, 2018 - 2:18:19 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 11:39:00 AM


  • HAL Id : insu-01731647, version 1


Joris Heyman, Régis Turuban, Joaquin Jimenez-Martinez, Daniel Lester, Yves Méheust, et al.. Experimental evidence of chaotic mixing at pore scale in 3D porous media . American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting 2017, Dec 2017, New Orleans, United States. pp.H13R-07. ⟨insu-01731647⟩



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