The velocity of DNAPL fingering in water-saturated porous media: laboratory experiments and a mobile–immobile–zone model
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Dense nonaqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) are immiscible with water and can give rise to highly fingered fluid distributions when infiltrating through water-saturated porous media. In this paper, a conceptual mobile-immobile-zone (MIZ) model is presented to describe the structure of a DNAPL finger in water-saturated porous media and the velocity of finger propagation. A finger is composed of a finger body and a tip. The finger body has a mobile core and an immobile sheath. All the DNAPL within the tip of a finger is mobile. Lab experiments utilizing image analyses of a DNAPL (PCE) penetrating into water-saturated homogeneous glass beads were carried out in a two-dimensional transparent chamber. The results show that the fingers elongated almost linearly with time. The fingers did not grow laterally after the tip of the finger had passed. The average finger diameters were between 3.9 and 5.4 mm for PCE propagation in water-saturated glass bead porous media with mean particle diameters from 0.32 to 1.36 mm. The estimated mobile core diameters were 51-60% of the average finger diameters.
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