Propagation and adsorption of nanoparticles in porous medium as traveling waves


Gerber, G. ; Weitz, D. A. ; Coussot, P. Propagation and adsorption of nanoparticles in porous medium as traveling waves. Physical Review Research 2020, 2 033074. Copy at
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Generally, one attempts to globally predict or interpret, from numerical simulations, the history of the effluents exiting porous media (i.e., the breakthrough curve), without a clear view of the detailed evolutions of deposition inside the medium. We developed a simple physical frame of description of the colloidal particle transport and adsorption, which allows to predict the main characteristics of transport and deposition in porous media from a set of directly measurable (macroscopic) physical parameters. More precisely, we show that the deposition distribution is basically a traveling wave propagating in the medium with a shape (frontal or extended) and velocity depending on the flow rate and the availability of particles with regards to the adsorption capacity. This in particular makes it possible to predict or interpret the breakthrough curve shape from a physical approach. We also show that additional effects may be included, such as a multiporosity leading to confinement effects (delayed deposition in less accessible regions). The validity of the model is checked from original direct visualizations by confocal microscopy of particle adsorption in time and space for nanoparticle suspensions flowing through a bead packing. This makes it possible to measure the evolution of the deposition profiles in time distinguishing the deposition in confined regions. The model appears to successfully predict the different trends: traveling wave, global deposition profile shape, profiles of deposition in confined regions.

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