Flow and transport of matter and energy through porous media is a field of knowledge with a broad scope of important real applications.
The most widespread and popular applications are those in which the fluid is water. For instance, we did a project where the goal was to model and optimize the flow of water in a limestone quarry. It is an interesting application, where the porous medium is highly heterogeneous, the mining geometry evolves swiftly in time and quick flows exist in particular zones.
In other cases the fluid is gas. We have worked in the numerical modeling of a CO2 injection into a coal seam, around 400 m. below ground surface, inside an active underground coal mine. The injected gas, displaces the fluids already present in the formation and sets in a density distribution. This density variation modifies the gravity field and these changes can be monitored in the surroundings. We seek to couple the flow of gas through the rock with the measurable gravity changes as detected with a gravity meter..
Heat is a particular state of energy. Porous media play a remarkable role in real engineering applications. One spectacular example is the use of the water stored in mining cavities inside closed underground coal mines as a heat reservoir for geothermal applications. A research line now active seeks the conceptualization and numerical modeling of the flow and heat transport processes involve. This would also allow optimizing the geothermal exploitation parameters.
The numerical models are performed using commercial software such as MODFLOW, FEFLOW and COMSOL. We also do coding when needed.
The connection between geophysics and flow in porous medium is being dealt with in some important projects.
The study and numerical modeling of the physical processes coupling gravity and flow in porous media is the main objective of the doctoral work being performed by Andrés González Quirós. This thesis seeks to establish to which degree and how, given the case, a microgravity survey on the surface can provide complementary or even new information compared to the classical observation obtained from pumping tests, on a free aquifer. These kind of aquifer have the highest importance for applications.