Scale-dependent macroscopic balance equations governing transport through porous media: Theory and observations

Shaul Sorek, Daniel Ronen, Vitaly Gitis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


A theory is developed providing a rational framework for spatial scale-dependent fluid's flow and heat transfer, and mass of a component migrating with it through porous media. Introducing the assumption of a non-Brownian type motion and referring to asymptotic expansion in powers of a small defined parameter, we develop a novel approach associated with macroscopic balance equations obtained by averaging over a Representative Elementary Volume (REV). We prove that these equations can be decomposed into a primary part that refers to the REV length scale and a secondary part valid at a length scale smaller than that of the corresponding REV length. Further to our previous development, we obtain two general forms of the primary and secondary macroscopic balance equations. One is based on the assumption that the advective flux of the extensive quantity is dominant over that of the dispersive flux, whereas the other disregards this assumption. Moreover we also introduce the primary and secondary macroscopic forms for the fluid heat-transfer equation. Considering a Newtonian fluid, the resulting primary Navier-Stokes equation can vary from a nonlinear wave equation to a drag-dominant equation at the fluid-solid interface (Darcy's law). The secondary momentum balance equation describes a wave equation governing the concurrent propagation of the intensive momentum and the dispersive momentum flux, deviating from their corresponding average terms. The primary macroscopic fluid heat-transfer equation accounts for advective and dispersive heat fluxes and the secondary macroscopic heat-transfer equation involves the simultaneous advection of heat deviating from its corresponding intensive average quantity. The primary macroscopic solute mass balance equation accounts for advection and hydrodynamic dispersion. The secondary macroscopic component mass balance equation is in the form of pure advection governing migration of the deviation from the average component concentration. At this stage, we focus on establishing the viability of the developed theory. We do this by arguing that field observations of motion at small spatial scales are coherent with the hyperbolic characteristics of the secondary balance equations. Field observations under natural gradient flow conditions show excessive high concentration (average of 50 mg/L) of colloids under land irrigated by sewage effluents. We argue that this displacement of condensed colloidal parcels manifests the theoretical findings for the smaller spatial scale. Further evidence show the accumulation of particles moving behind the front of an emitted shockwave. We consider this as an experimental proof reinforcing the argument that colloidal migration is subject to the action of a shockwave in the fluid and pure advection transport, governed by the respective suggested hyperbolic macroscopic balance equations of fluid momentum and component mass at the smaller spatial scale.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-72
Number of pages12
JournalTransport in Porous Media
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010


  • Deviation from spatial average
  • Field observations of colloidal migration
  • Fluid momentum and heat and solute mass
  • General macroscopic balance equations
  • Representative elementary volume

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Chemical Engineering (all)


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