Dimensionality effects on multicomponent ionic transport and surface complexation in porous media

Jacopo Cogorno, Lucien Stolze, Muhammad Muniruzzaman, Massimo Rolle*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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    Coulombic interactions between charged species in pore water and at surface/solution interfaces are of pivotal importance for multicomponent reactive transport in porous media. In this study, we investigate the impact of domain dimensionality on electrostatically coupled dispersion and surface-solution reactions during transport of acidic plumes and major ions in porous media.

    Column and quasi two-dimensional flow-through experiments were performed, with identical silica porous media and under the same advection-dominated conditions. Equal mass fluxes of different electrolyte solutions (i.e., HCl - pH ∼ 2.8, NaBr - 100 mM, HCl - pH ∼ 2.8 plus NaBr - 100 mM) were continuously injected in the 1-D and 2-D experiments and breakthrough curves of pH and major ions were measured at the outlet of the domains. The presence of pronounced ionic strength gradients in the transverse direction in the 2-D setup caused distinct retardation and transport behaviors of protons and major ions which were not observed in the one-dimensional column experiments. Furthermore, in the cases of salt electrolytes injection, considerably enhanced release of H+ (>61%) from the quartz surface was observed in the multidimensional system compared to the one-dimensional setup.

    Reactive transport modeling was performed to reproduce the experimental outcomes and to analyse the coupling between transport processes, based on the Nernst-Planck formulation of diffusive/dispersive fluxes and on surface complexation reactions at the solid-solution interface. Electrostatic interactions between Na+, Br-, and H+, and deprotonation of the quartz surface upon the formation of sodium outer-sphere complexes, are the primary controllers of the spatial and temporal features displayed by the pH and major ions measurements. The reactive transport simulations allowed us to interpret the experimental observations, to visualize the distribution and spatio-temporal evolution of dissolved and solid species, to identify a spatially heterogeneous zonation of Coulombic interactions with distinct behavior at the fringe and core of the injected plumes in the multidimensional setup, and to quantify the different components of the Nerst-Planck fluxes of the charged solutes. This study demonstrates that the domain dimensionality directly affects electrostatic interactions between charged aqueous species in the pore water and surface complexation reactions at the solid-solution interface. The non-trivial effects of dimensionality on multicomponent ionic transport result in a significantly different behavior in 1-D and 2-D systems.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalGeochimica et Cosmochimica Acta
    Pages (from-to)230-246
    Number of pages17
    Publication statusPublished - 2022


    • Flow-through experiments
    • Multidimensional setups
    • Charge interactions
    • Surface complexation
    • Reactive transport modeling
    • Transverse dispersion


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