Waste disposal sites create a risk of pollutants to infiltrate into the groundwater system and spread out across large areas. Therefore, constructing efficient isolating barriers belongs to a class of crucial problems in environmental engineering.
Within this interdisciplinary project we bring together approaches of scientific computing and engineering geology. Our main objective is to improve the quality of barriers constructed from soil mixtures by applying results of experimental measurements and recent results of modeling flows in porous media at pore scale. Pore scale means a scale of resolution, at which a porous medium is represented by means of a solid skeleton (soil grains) and pores (voids) where flows occur.
In our study a range of samples consisting of sand and clay mixtures in different proportions will be considered. In parallel to a wide range of laboratory measurements, the samples will be processed numerically. To this end the geometry of samples will be reconstructed at pore scale based on images obtained by X-ray computed microtomography. By solving the Navier-Stokes equations describing flow at pore scale, a detailed insight into velocities and pressure distributions inside samples is obtained.
Due to complexity of geometry and the resulting extremely large sizes of computational problems, numerical modeling of flows at pore scale for realistic three dimensional data is a challenging task.
From the point of view of engineering geology we expect to get a new insight into the design of isolating barriers. From the point of view of computational modeling we expect to achieve developments in the entire computational procedure along with its validation based on experimental data. The proposed computational approach opens a wide perspective for further progress in modeling processes occurring in barriers (transport, sorption, self-cleaning).