The question of contaminant transport in heterogeneous geological media has been one of the most debated problems in hydro-geological science over the last decades. So far, the models that have been validated on the field are able to describe the transfer o f non-reacting contaminants in weakly heterogeneous media. However, in most industrial and societal applications, there are not only strong flow heterogeneities but also chemical interactions between solute and rocks. In this context, the objective of my research project is to increase our capacity to model fluid and mass transfer in aquifers, with emphasis on addressing the effect of heterogeneity and chemical reactions. There is currently a gap between contaminant transport theories and their applicability to field problems since field and theoretical approaches are often led separately. Therefore, although experimental observation is not the main focus of the project, the numerical and theoretical approaches used will be defined in interaction with experimental observations.
The analysis will begin by using and developing numerical models that integrate the characteristics of natural media: strong flow variability and chemical interactions between solutes and the host rock. Detailed analysis of the key features resulting from heterogeneity and chemical interactions will allow investigating what are the pertinent effective equations that can describe the obtained properties. Comparison between model predictions and experimental data will be used to test mode l applicability. During my fellowship at UPC Barcelona, I expect to find a strong support for the numerical and theoretical developments, which together with my understanding of real systems (Le Borgne et al., 2004, Le Borgne et al., submitted), will enable meaningful progress in the definition of realistic models of contaminant transfer in hydro-geological systems.
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