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Title: Internal Domains of Natural Porous Media Revealed: Critical Locations for Transport, Storage, and Chemical Reaction

Internal pore domains exist within rocks, lithic fragments, subsurface sediments and soil aggregates. These domains, which we term internal domains in porous media (IDPM), contain a significant fraction of their porosity as nanopores, dominate the reactive surface area of diverse porous media types, and are important locations for chemical reactivity and hydrocarbon storage. Traditionally difficult to interrogate, advances in instrumentation and imaging methods are providing new insights on the physical structures and chemical attributes of IDPM. In this review we: discuss analytical methods to characterize IDPM, evaluate what has been learned about their size distributions, connectivity, and extended structures; determine whether they exhibit unique chemical reactivity; and assess potential for their inclusion in reactive transport models. Three key findings are noteworthy. 1) A combination of methods now allows complete characterization of the porosity spectrum of natural materials and its connectivity; while imaging microscopies are providing three dimensional representations of the interconnected pore network. 2) Chemical reactivity in pores <10 nm is expected to be different from micro and macropores, yet research performed to date is inconclusive on the nature, direction, and magnitude of effect. 3) Existing continuum reactive transport models treat IDPM as a sub-grid feature with average, empirical, scale-dependentmore » parameters; and are not formulated to include detailed information on pore networks. Overall we find that IDPM are key features controlling hydrocarbon release from shales in hydrofracking systems, organic matter stabilization and recalcitrance in soil, weathering and soil formation, and long term inorganic and organic contaminant behavior in the vadose zone and groundwater. We conclude with an assessment of impactful research opportunities to advance understanding of IDPM, and to incorporate their important effects in reactive transport models for improved environmental simulation and prediction.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN 0013-936X; KP1702030; KC0302060
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Science and Technology; Journal Volume: 50; Journal Issue: 6
American Chemical Society (ACS)
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States