Efficient flow and transport simulations in reconstructed 3D pore geometries

Yan Zaretskiy*, Sebastian Geiger, Ken Sorbie, Malte Förster

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

93 Citations (Scopus)


Upscaling pore-scale processes into macroscopic quantities such as hydrodynamic dispersion is still not a straightforward matter for porous media with complex pore space geometries. Recently it has become possible to obtain very realistic 3D geometries for the pore system of real rocks using either numerical reconstruction or micro-CT measurements. In this work, we present a finite element-finite volume simulation method for modeling single-phase fluid flow and solute transport in experimentally obtained 3D pore geometries. Algebraic multigrid techniques and parallelization allow us to solve the Stokes and advection-diffusion equations on large meshes with several millions of elements. We apply this method in a proof-of-concept study of a digitized Fontainebleau sandstone sample. We use the calculated velocity to simulate pore-scale solute transport and diffusion. From this, we are able to calculate the a priori emergent macroscopic hydrodynamic dispersion coefficient of the porous medium for a given molecular diffusion Dm of the solute species. By performing this calculation at a range of flow rates, we can correctly predict all of the observed flow regimes from diffusion dominated to convection dominated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1508-1516
Number of pages9
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Algebraic multigrid
  • Finite element
  • Finite volume
  • Navier-Stokes equation
  • Pore-scale modeling
  • Solute transport


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