Nonlinear simulation of miscible displacements with concentration-dependent diffusion coefficient in homogeneous porous media

Qingwang Yuan, Xiang Zhou, Fanhua Zeng, Kelvin D. Knorr, Muhammad Imran

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17 Scopus citations


The nonlinear dynamics of miscible flow displacements in homogeneous porous media are examined for the special case of concentration-dependent diffusion coefficient (CDDC) models. Highly accurate numerical methods are used to simulate the time evolution of fingering with both mobility and diffusion coefficient contrasts of two components in a fully miscible solution system. The simulations revealed that, when compared with a constant diffusion coefficient (CDC), the CDDC models show drastically different viscous fingering structures and mixing of the two components. In particular, for a pure diffusion process with a stable front, using a CDDC results in less mixing, with a non-symmetric concentration gradient. While for the unstable displacements with relatively large mobility contrasts, it is found that using a CDDC tends to trigger fingers at the very beginning of the displacements. The diffusion-dominated period is therefore very short and can nearly be neglected. Moreover, the fingers reach the downstream boundary much earlier with fingering structures about 2–4 times more complex than the CDC case. Quantitative analysis indicates that the exponential CDDC models can enhance the mixing by shortening the diffusive regime but not change the growth rate of mixing in the convective regime. In addition, in contrast with the CDC case, the time required for the appearance of fingers for the CDDC seems to be independent of Peclet number Pe at a relatively large log mobility ratios R. As Pe increases for the CDDC cases, more complex dynamics of the fingers are observed, which can only be found at very high Pe and R values for the CDC case. In addition, a small increase in R is able to significantly enhance the instabilities since it can result in not only larger mobility contrast but also a steeper diffusion gradient.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-544
Number of pages17
JournalChemical Engineering Science
StatePublished - 2017


  • Concentration-dependent diffusion
  • Homogeneous porous media
  • Miscible displacements
  • Nonlinear numerical simulation
  • Viscous fingering


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