Enhancing solute transport by pressure-wave driven flow in unsaturated porous media

Doron Kalisman, Alexander Yakirevich, Shaul Sorek, Tamir Kamai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Solutes and their limited mobilization in heterogeneous porous media may lead to subsurface salinization and contamination evident in various environmental settings. Previous studies showed that flow and transport driven by pressure waves in porous media under saturated conditions significantly enhance solute displacement compared to drag-dominant (Darcy) flow and transport, resulting in more thorough remediation. However, experimental evidence lacks demonstration of such transport under unsaturated conditions. We investigate solute leaching in a flow cell, experimentally modeling solute displacement from an unsaturated, saline, fine-textured soil region to the surrounding coarse-textured soil. The extent of mobilization efficiency is evaluated by comparing solute breakthrough measurements between two leaching treatments, with drag-dominant continuous flux (CF) and pressure-wave pulse flux (PPF). The results indicate that the PPF treatment provided an additional 75% solute mass that leached from the fine-textured region per unit volume of water compared to the CF. The effect is partly due to the impact of the pressure waves on water imbibition into the medium. The PPF induced relatively high pressure gradients at the wetting front compared to percolation during the CF, thus wetting the media in a more spatially uniform pattern. Consequently, the PPF treatment led to higher water content at and behind the front, which increased the continuity of the water phase across the fine-textured and coarse-textured soils and enhanced transport. The study is a proof of concept for pressure-wave driven flow to enhance local wetting and solute transport in unsaturated soil.

Original languageEnglish
Article number128196
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume612
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2022

Keywords

  • Flow cell
  • Leaching
  • Pressure pulse
  • Pressure wave
  • Solute transport
  • Unsaturated porous media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology

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