Pore-scale analysis of thermal remediation of NAPL-contaminated subsurface environments
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The possible benefits of thermal remediation of NAPL-contaminated subsurface were analyzed at pore-scale. Force balance analysis was performed to provide the insight and information on the critical conditions for the blob mobilization. First, the critical blob radius for blob mobilization was calculated in terms of blob radius, temperature, and water velocity. Temperature increase enhanced the blob mobilization along with the decrease of interfacial tension. Water velocity increase also enhanced the blob mobilization. Critical water velocity provided the critical condition for the initiation of blob mobilization to distinguish singlet and doublet in blob size. Second, the terminal (or steady state) blob velocity at the steady state blob motion was determined. Increases of temperature and water velocity raised the terminal blob velocity. When the observation of blob mobilization moved from REV scale (macroscale) to pore-scale, terminal blob velocity showed the different phenomena according to the change of oil saturation. At macro-scale, the terminal blob velocity was smaller than water velocity by an order or two. However, the terminal blob velocity reached to water velocity at pore-scale. This investigation would provide the better understanding on the pore-scale analysis of residual NAPL blob mobilization by thermal remediation. Additionally, the pore-scale analysis developed in this study would be incorporated into a general conservation equation in terms of the accumulation of multiple blobs. It would derive continuumaveraged equations that accurately represent pore-level physics. In conclusion, the study on the critical conditions for the initiation of blob mobilization as a single discrete blob would have some contribution to the transport and fate of NAPL contaminant and the desired subsurface remediation.