Linking mixing and flow topology in porous media: An experimental proof

Mónica Basilio Hazas, Francesca Ziliotto, Massimo Rolle, Gabriele Chiogna*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Transport processes in porous media are controlled by the characteristics of the flow field which are determined by the porous material properties and the boundary conditions of the system. This work provides experimental evidence of the relation between mixing and flow field topology in porous media at the continuum scale. The setup consists of a homogeneously packed quasi-two-dimensional flow-through chamber in which transient flow conditions, dynamically controlled by two external reservoirs, impact the transport of a dissolved tracer. The experiments were performed at two different flow velocities, corresponding to Péclet numbers of 191 and 565, respectively. The model-based interpretation of the experimental results shows that high values of the effective Okubo-Weiss parameter, driven by the changes of the boundary conditions, lead to high rates of increase of the Shannon entropy of the tracer distribution and, thus, to enhanced mixing. The comparison between a hydrodynamic dispersion model and an equivalent pore diffusion model demonstrates that despite the spatial and temporal variability in the hydrodynamic dispersion coefficients, the Shannon entropy remains almost unchanged because it is controlled by the Okubo-Weiss parameter. Overall, our work demonstrates that under highly transient boundary conditions, mixing dynamics in homogeneous porous media can also display complex patterns and is controlled by the flow topology.
Original languageEnglish
Article number035105
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number3
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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