A dynamic two-phase flow model for air sparging

Shengyan Gao, Jay N. Meegoda, Liming Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Air sparging (AS) is an in situ soil/groundwater remediation technology, which involves the injection of pressurized air/oxygen through an air sparging well below the zone of contamination. Characterizing the mechanisms governing movement of air through saturated porous media is critical for the design of an effective cleanup treatment system. In this research, micromechanical investigation was performed to understand the physics of air migration and subsequent spatial distribution of air at pore scale during air sparging. The void space in the porous medium was first characterized by pore network consisting of connected pore bodies and bonds. The biconical abscissa asymmetric concentric bond was used to describe the connection between two adjacent pore bodies. Then a rule-based dynamic two-phase flow model was developed and applied to the pore network model. A forward integration of time was performed using the Euler scheme. For each time step, the effective viscosity of the fluid was calculated based on fractions of two phases in each bond, and capillary pressures across the menisci was considered to compute the pressure field. The developed dynamic model was used to study the rate-dependent drainage during air sparging. The effect of the capillary number and geometrical properties of the network on the dynamic flow properties of two-phase flow including residual saturation, spatial distribution of air and water, dynamic phase transitions, and relative permeability-capillary pressure curves were systematically investigated. Results showed that all the above information for describing the air water two-phase flow are not intrinsic properties of the porous medium but are affected by the two-phase flow dynamics and spatial distribution of each phase, providing new insight to air sparging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1801-1821
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal for Numerical and Analytical Methods in Geomechanics
Issue number12
StatePublished - Aug 25 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computational Mechanics
  • General Materials Science
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Mechanics of Materials


  • Air sparging, relative permeability
  • Dynamic two-phase flow
  • Pore network model
  • Porous medium


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