On multicomponent gas diffusion and coupling concepts for porous media and free flow: a benchmark study

Navid Ahmadi, Katharina Heck, Massimo Rolle*, Rainer Helmig, Klaus Mosthaf

*Corresponding author for this work

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Multicomponent gas transport in porous media and at the interface between porous media and free flow occurs in a wide range of technical and environmental systems. Modeling tools are required for the quantitative description of such coupled environmental compartments. We present a benchmark study to compare different diffusion models as well as different coupling concepts employed for the description of multicomponent gas flow and transport at the porous medium/free-flow interface. The benchmark problems allowed us to compare two diffusion models (Fickian and Maxwell-Stefan formulations) for predicting the transport behavior of multicomponent mixtures in porous media and in presence of a free flow. The examples highlighted the importance of interaction between different diffusing components by applying the Maxwell-Stefan formulation, as well as the impact of the free flow velocity on gas migration at the interface under diffusion- and advection-dominated conditions. The problems were solved using two simulation tools, incorporating different coupling concepts to describe the physics of flow and transport processes. In COMSOL Multiphysics, we implemented a single-domain Brinkman approach, whereas in the DuMuX simulator we used a two-domain approach with the Navier-Stokes equation for the free flow and Darcy’s law for the porous medium. Also, the formulation of the Maxwell-Stefan equation for multicomponent transport was different between the two codes. Despite the different modeling concepts, mathematical descriptions and numerical schemes implemented in the two simulators, their outcomes demonstrate excellent agreement for all benchmark problems, as well as the capability to reproduce the results of previous modeling and experimental studies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalComputational Geosciences
Pages (from-to)1493–1507
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Independent Research Fund Denmark (project GIGA, grant DFF 7017-00130) and by the German Research Foundation (DFG), within the Collaborative Research Center on Interface-Driven Multi-Field Processes in Porous Media (SFB 1313, Project No. 327154368, Project A02) and the DFG Research Group Satin 2531/14-1.


  • COMSOL multiphysics
  • DuMu
  • Maxwell-Stefan equation
  • Multicomponent gas transport
  • Porous medium/free-flow coupling


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