First-principles derivation of reactive transport modeling parameters for particle tracking and PDE approaches

Scott K. Hansen, Harvey Scher, Brian Berkowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Both Eulerian and Lagrangian reactive transport simulations in natural media require selection of a parameter that controls the "promiscuity" of the reacting particles. In Eulerian models, measurement of this parameter may be difficult because its value will generally differ between natural (diffusion-limited) systems and batch experiments, even though both are modeled by reaction terms of the same form. And in Lagrangian models, there previously has been no a priori way to compute this parameter. In both cases, then, selection is typically done by calibration, or ad hoc. This paper addresses the parameter selection problem for Fickian transport by deriving, from first principles and D (the diffusion constant) the reaction-rate-controlling parameters for particle tracking (PT) codes and for the diffusion-reaction equation (DRE). Using continuous time random walk analysis, exact reaction probabilities are derived for pairs of potentially reactive particles based on D and their probability of reaction provided that they collocate. Simultaneously, a second PT scheme directly employing collocation probabilities is derived. One-to-one correspondence between each of D, the reaction radius specified for a PT scheme, and the DRE decay constant are then developed. These results serve to ground reactive transport simulations in their underlying thermodynamics, and are confirmed by simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)146-158
Number of pages13
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Continuous time random walk
  • Fickian diffusion
  • Langevin equation
  • Model calibration
  • Particle tracking
  • Reactive transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology


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