Rayleigh fractionation in high-Rayleigh-number solutal convection in porous media.
We study the fractionation of two components between a well-mixed gas and a saturated convecting porous layer. Motivated by geological carbon dioxide (CO$_2$) storage we assume that convection is driven only by the dissolved concentration of the first component, while the second acts as a tracer with increased diffusivity. Direct numerical simulations for convection at high Rayleigh numbers reveal that the partitioning of the components, in general, does not follow a Rayleigh fractionation trend, as commonly assumed. Initially, increases in tracer diffusivity also increase its flux, because the diffusive boundary layer penetrates deeper into the flow. However, for $D_2\geq 10\, D_1$, where $D_1$ and $D_2$ are, respectively, the diffusion coefficients of CO$_2$ and the tracer in water, the transverse leakage of tracer between up- and down-welling plumes reduces the tracer flux. Rayleigh fractionation between components is only realized in the limit of two gases with very large differences in solubility and initial concentration in the gas.
Publisher URL: http://arxiv.org/abs/1801.03075
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