Solutal convection in porous media: Comparison between boundary conditions of constant concentration and constant flux
Physical review. E
We numerically examine solutal convection in porous media, driven by the dissolution of carbon dioxide (CO2) into water---an effective mechanism for CO2 storage in saline aquifers. Dissolution is associated with slow diffusion of free-phase CO2 into the underlying aqueous phase followed by density-driven convective mixing of CO2 throughout the water-saturated layer. We study the fluid dynamics of CO2 convection in the single aqueous-phase region. A comparison is made between two different
... ry conditions in the top of the formation: (i) a constant, maximum aqueous-phase concentration of CO2, and (ii) a constant, low injection-rate of CO2, such that all CO2 dissolves instantly and the system remains in single phase. The latter model is found to involve a nonlinear evolution of CO2 composition and associated aqueous-phase density, which depend on the formation permeability. We model the full nonlinear phase behavior of water-CO2 mixtures in a confined domain, consider dissolution and fluid compressibility, and relax the common Boussinesq approximation. We discover new flow regimes and present quantitative scaling relations for global characteristics of spreading, mixing, and a dissolution flux in two- and three-dimensional media for both boundary conditions. We also revisit the scaling behavior of Sherwood number (Sh) with Rayleigh number (Ra), which has been under debate for porous-media convection. Our measurements from the solutal convection in the range 1, 500<Ra<135, 000 show that the classical linear scaling Sh ~ Ra is attained asymptotically for the constant-concentration case. Similarly linear scaling is recovered for the constant-flux model problem.