Transport with a Very Low Density Contrast in Hele–Shaw Cell and Porous Medium: Evolution of the Mixing Zone

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The optimal concentration of a blue dye solution with ‘tracer’ properties, enabling a pollutant to be marked was determined by the use of numerical, theoretical and experimental approaches. Experimental investigations were performed on a transparent Hele–Shaw cell and the concentration distribution was analyzed using an optical technique based on dye light absorption properties. The injected optimal concentration was established thanks to a theoretical and experimental study carried out on the output signal dynamics. Using the same experimental conditions, numerical simulations were performed. The very good agreement between the data (experimental and numerical) clarified that: (i) the choice of the blue dye optimal concentration was valid and (ii) the concentration-dependent density should not be neglected in flow and transport equations even if it concerns a so-called ‘tracer’. Following this remark, a theoretical aspect was developed in order to determine the analogous conditions between a Hele–Shaw cell and a porous medium for the variable density transport phenomenon. The structure of the concentration-dependent dispersion tensor used in the numerical code was obtained by homogenizing the Stokes flow of a bi-component mixture. The numerical results show that, as long as the tracer density does not exceed a certain value, it is not necessary to take into account a density contrast in terms of the dispersion tensor. The classical form of the Taylor dispersion tensor can be used successfully.

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