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Vadose Zone Journal



Characterization of differently textured porous materials, as well as different volumetric porous media mixtures, in relation to mass and heat transport is vital for many engineering and research applications. Functional relations describing physical (e.g., grain-size distribution, total porosity), thermal, and gas diffusion properties of porous media and mixtures are necessary to optimize the design of porous systems that involve heat and gas transport processes. However, only a limited number of studies provide characterization of soil physical, thermal, and gas diffusion properties and the functional relationships of these properties under varying soil water contents, especially for soil mixtures, complicating optimization efforts. To better understand how mixing controls the physical, thermal, and gas diffusion properties of porous media, a set of laboratory experiments was performed using five volumetric mixtures of coarse- and fine-grained sand particles. For each mixture, the grain-size distribution (GSD), thermal conductivity, and gas diffusivity were obtained and parameterized using existing and suggested parametric models. Results show that the extended, two-region Rosin–Rammler particle-size distribution model proposed in this study could successfully describe the bimodal behavior of the GSD of binary mixtures. Further, the modified Côté and Konrad thermal conductivity model adequately described the thermal conductivity– water saturation relations observed in different mixtures. The proposed simple soil-gas diffusivity descriptive model parameterized the upper limit, average, and lower limit behavior in gas diffusivity–air content relations in apparently texture-invariant gas diffusivity data. Results further show a close analogy between gas diffusivity and thermal conductivity and their variation with saturation across different binary mixtures. Overall, the results of the study provide useful numerical insight into the physical, thermal, and gas transport characteristics of binary mixtures, with wide implications for future engineering and research applications that involve multicomponent porous systems.


Civil and Environmental Engineering | Civil Engineering | Engineering

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Published by the Soil Science Society of America