September 1, 2004
Journal Article

A Practical Model for Mobile, Residual, and Entrapped NAPL in Water-Wet Porous Media


Flow of nonvolatile nonaqueous phase liquid (NAPL) and aqueous phases that account for mobile, entrapped, and residual NAPL in variably saturated water-wet porous media is modeled and compared against results from detailed laboratory experiments. Residual saturation formation in the vadose zone is a process that is often ignored in multifluid flow simulators, which might cause an overestimation of the volume of NAPL that reaches the ground water. Mobile NAPL is defined as being continuous in the pore space and flows under a pressure gradient or gravitational body force. Entrapped NAPL is defined as being occluded by the aqueous phase, occurring as immobile ganglia surrounded by aqueous phase in the pore space and formed when NAPL is replaced by the aqueous phase. Residual NAPL is defined as immobile, nonwater entrapped NAPL that does not drain from the pore spaces and is conceptualized as being either continuous or discontinuous. Free NAPL comprises mobile and residual NAPL. The numerical model is formulated on mass conservation equations for oil and water, transported via NAPL and aqueous phases through variably saturated porous media. To account for phase transitions, a primary variable switching scheme is implemented for the oil-mass conservation equation over three phase conditions: (1) aqueous or aqueous-gas with dissolved oil, (2) aqueous or aqueous-gas with entrapped NAPL, and (3) aqueous or aqueous gas with free NAPL. Two laboratory-scale column experiments are modeled to verify the numerical model. Comparisons between the numerical simulations and experiments demonstrate the necessity to include the residual NAPL formation process in multifluid flow simulators.

Revised: October 27, 2005 | Published: September 1, 2004


White M.D., M. Oostrom, and R.J. Lenhard. 2004. A Practical Model for Mobile, Residual, and Entrapped NAPL in Water-Wet Porous Media. Ground Water 42, no. 5:734-746. PNNL-SA-42886.