Description: The concept of an effective porosity is widely used in solute transport modeling to account for the presence of a fraction of the medium that effectively does not influence solute migration, apart from taking up space. This non-participating volume or ineffective porosity plays the same role as the gas phase in single-phase liquid unsaturated transport: it increases pore velocity, which is useful towards reproducing observed solute travel times. The prevalent use of the effective porosity concept is reflected by its prominent inclusion in popular texts, e.g., de Marsily (1986), Fetter (1988, 1993) and Zheng and Bennett (2002). The purpose of this commentary is to point out that proper application of the concept for sorbing solutes requires more than simply reducing porosity while leaving other material properties unchanged. More specifically, effective porosity implies the corresponding need for an effective bulk density in a conventional single-porosity model. The reason is that the designated non-participating volume is composed of both solid and fluid phases, both of which must be neglected for consistency. Said another way, if solute does not enter the ineffective porosity then it also cannot contact the adjoining solid. Conceptually neglecting the fluid portion of the non-participating volume leads to a lower (effective) porosity. Likewise, discarding the solid portion of the non-participating volume inherently leads to a lower or effective bulk density. In the author's experience, practitioners virtually never adjust bulk density when adopting the effective porosity approach.
Date: February 27, 2012
Creator: Flach, G.
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