Pore-scale modeling of solute transport in partially-saturated porous media
AbstractSolute transport in partially-saturated porous media plays a key role in multiple applications across scales, from the migration of nutrients and contaminants in soils to geological energy storage and recovery. Our understanding of transport in unsaturated porous media remains limited compared to the well-studied saturated case. The focus of this review is the non-reactive transport driven by the displacement of immiscible fluids, where the fluid-fluid interface acts as a barrier that limits the solute to a single fluid phase. State-of-the-art pore-scale models are described, with a critical analysis of the gaps and challenges. A numerical example is provided to demonstrate the acute sensitivity of solute transport prediction to minute, inevitable uncertainties in the spatial distribution of the fluids' velocities and interface configuration associated with the multiphase flow modeling.