Computational Geosciences

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 171–189 | Cite as

Numerical simulation of NAPL flow in the subsurface

  • L.K. Kuiper
  • T.K. Illangasekare


A three-dimensional, three-phase numerical model is presented for simulating the movement of immiscible fluids, including nonaqueous-phase liquids (NAPLs), through porous media. The model is designed to simulate soil flume experiments and for practical application to a wide variety of contamination scenarios involving light or dense NAPLs in heterogeneous subsurface systems. The model is derived for the three-phase flow of water, NAPL, and air in porous media. The basic governing equations are based upon the mass conservation of the constitutents within the phases. The descretization chosen to transform the governing equations into the approximating equations, although logically regular, is very general. The approximating equations are a set of simultaneous coupled nonlinear equations which are solved by the Newton-Raphson method. The linear system solutions needed for the Newton-Raphson method are obtained using a matrix of preconditioner/accelerator iterative methods.

Because of the special way the governing equations are implemented, the model is capable of simulating many of the phenomena considered necessary for the sucessful simulation of field problems including entry pressure phenomena, entrapment, and preferential flow paths. The model is verified by comparing it with several exact analytic test solutions and three soil flume experiments involving the introduction and movement of light nonaqueous-phase liquid (LNAPL) or dense nonaqueous-phase liquid (DNAPL) in heterogeneous sand containing a watertable.

control volume finite element multiphase flow nonaqueous-phase liquid 65M05 76S05 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • L.K. Kuiper
    • 1
  • T.K. Illangasekare
    • 2
  1. 1.Earth and Environmental Sciences DivisionLos Alamos National LaboratoryLos AlamosUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural EngineeringUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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