The total trapping number (NT), quantifying the balance of gravitational, viscous, and capillary forces acting on an entrapped dense nonaqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) droplet, was originally developed as a criterion to predict the onset and extent of residual DNAPL mobilization in porous media. The ability of this approach to predict mobilization behavior, however, has not been rigorously validated in multidimensional systems. In this work, experimental observations of residual tetrachloroethene (PCE) mobilization in rectangular columns are compared to predictions obtained using a multiphase compositional finite-element simulator that was modified to incorporate the dependence of entrapped residual, flow, and transport parameters on the total trapping number. Consistent with calculated NT values (1.21 × 10 -3-1.10 × 10-2), residual PCE-DNAPL was mobilized immediately upon contact with a low-interfacial tension (IFT) surfactant solution and rapidly migrated downward to form a bank of mobile DNAPL. The numerical model accurately captured the onset and extent of PCE-DNAPL mobilization, the angle and migration of the DNAPL bank, the swept path of the surfactant solution, and cumulative PCE recovery. These findings demonstrate the utility of the total trapping number for prediction of DNAPL mobilization behavior during low-IFT flushing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Environmental Chemistry