Xiang-Zao Kong Publications Content

Publications

REFEREED PUBLICATIONS IN JOURNALS

25.  Galindo-Torres, S.A., T. Molebatsi, X.Z. Kong, A. Scheuermann, D. Bringemeier, and L. Li Scaling solutions for connectivity and conductivity of continuous random networks, Physical Review E, Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics, 92/4, pp. 041001, 2015. Abstract
Connectivity and conductivity of two-dimensional fracture networks (FNs), as an important type of continuous random networks, are examined systematically through Monte Carlo simulations under a variety of conditions, including different power law distributions of the fracture lengths and domain sizes. The simulation results are analyzed using analogies of the percolation theory for discrete random networks. With a characteristic length scale and conductivity scale introduced, we show that the connectivity and conductivity of FNs can be well described by universal scaling solutions. These solutions shed light on previous observations of scale-dependent FN behavior and provide a powerful method for quantifying effective bulk properties of continuous random networks.
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24.  Tutolo, B.M., X.-Z. Kong, W.E. Seyfried Jr., and M.O. Saar High performance reactive transport simulations examining the effects of thermal, hydraulic, and chemical (THC) gradients on fluid injectivity at carbonate CCUS reservoir scales, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 39, pp. 285-301, 2015. Abstract
Carbonate minerals and CO2 are both considerably more soluble at low temperatures than they are at elevated temperatures. This inverse solubility has led a number of researchers to hypothesize that injecting low-temperature (i.e., less than the background reservoir temperature) CO2 into deep, saline reservoirs for CO2 Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) will dissolve CO2 and carbonate minerals near the injection well and subsequently exsolve and re-precipitate these phases as the fluids flow into the geothermally warm portion of the reservoir. In this study, we utilize high performance computing to examine the coupled effects of cool CO2 injection and background hydraulic head gradients on reservoir-scale mineral volume changes. We employ the fully coupled reactive transport simulator PFLOTRAN with calculations distributed over up to 800 processors to test 21 scenarios designed to represent a range of reservoir depths, hydraulic head gradients, and CO2 injection rates and temperatures. In the default simulations, 50 °C CO2 is injected at a rate of 50 kg/s into a 200 bar, 100 °C calcite or dolomite reservoir. By comparing these simulations with others run at varying conditions, we show that the effect of cool CO2 injection on reservoir-scale mineral volume changes tends to be relatively minor. We conclude that the low heat capacity of CO2 effectively prevents low-temperature CO2 injection from decreasing the temperature across large portions of the simulated carbonate reservoirs. This small thermal perturbation, combined with the low relative permeability of brine within the supercritical CO2 plume, yields limited dissolution and precipitation effects directly attributable to cool CO2 injection. Finally, we calculate that relatively high water-to-rock ratios, which may occur over much longer CCUS reservoir lifetimes or in materials with sufficiently high brine relative permeability within the supercritical CO2 plume, would be required to substantially affect injectivity through thermally-induced mineral dissolution and precipitation. Importantly, this study shows the utility of reservoir scale-reactive transport simulators for testing hypotheses and placing laboratory-scale observations into a CCUS reservoir-scale context.
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23.  Tutolo, B.M., A.J. Luhmann, X.-Z. Kong, M.O. Saar, and W.E. Seyfried Jr. CO2 sequestration in feldspar-rich sandstone: Coupled evolution of fluid chemistry, mineral reaction rates, and hydrogeochemical properties, Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta, 160, pp. 132-154, 2015. Abstract
To investigate CO2 Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) in sandstones, we performed three 150 °C flow-through experiments on K-feldspar-rich cores from the Eau Claire formation. By characterizing fluid and solid samples from these experiments using a suite of analytical techniques, we explored the coupled evolution of fluid chemistry, mineral reaction rates, and hydrogeochemical properties during CO2 sequestration in feldspar-rich sandstone. Overall, our results confirm predictions that the heightened acidity resulting from supercritical CO2 injection into feldspar-rich sandstone will dissolve primary feldspars and precipitate secondary aluminum minerals. A core through which CO2-rich deionized water was recycled for 52 days decreased in bulk permeability, exhibited generally low porosity associated with high surface area in post-experiment core sub-samples, and produced an Al hydroxide secondary mineral, such as boehmite. However, two samples subjected to ?3 day single-pass experiments run with CO2-rich, 0.94 mol/kg NaCl brines decreased in bulk permeability, showed generally elevated porosity associated with elevated surface area in post-experiment core sub-samples, and produced a phase with kaolinite-like stoichiometry. CO2-induced metal mobilization during the experiments was relatively minor and likely related to Ca mineral dissolution. Based on the relatively rapid approach to equilibrium, the relatively slow near-equilibrium reaction rates, and the minor magnitudes of permeability changes in these experiments, we conclude that CCUS systems with projected lifetimes of several decades are geochemically feasible in the feldspar-rich sandstone end-member examined here. Additionally, the observation that K-feldspar dissolution rates calculated from our whole-rock experiments are in good agreement with literature parameterizations suggests that the latter can be utilized to model CCUS in K-feldspar-rich sandstone. Finally, by performing a number of reactive transport modeling experiments to explore processes occurring during the flow-through experiments, we have found that the overall progress of feldspar hydrolysis is negligibly affected by quartz dissolution, but significantly impacted by the rates of secondary mineral precipitation and their effect on feldspar saturation state. The observations produced here are critical to the development of models of CCUS operations, yet more work, particularly in the quantification of coupled dissolution and precipitation processes, will be required in order to produce models that can accurately predict the behavior of these systems.
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22.  Ma, Y., X. -Z. Kong, A. Scheuermann, S. A. Galindo-Torres, D. Bringemeier, and L. Li Microbubble transport in water-saturated porous media, Water Resources Research, 51/6, pp. 4359-4373, 2015. Abstract
Laboratory experiments were conducted to investigate flow of discrete microbubbles through a water-saturated porous medium. During the experiments, bubbles, released from a diffuser, moved upward through a quasi-2-D flume filled with transparent water-based gelbeads and formed a distinct plume that could be well registered by a calibrated camera. Outflowing bubbles were collected on the top of the flume using volumetric burettes for flux measurements. We quantified the scaling behaviors between the gas (bubble) release rates and various characteristic parameters of the bubble plume, including plume tip velocity, plume width, and breakthrough time of the plume front. The experiments also revealed circulations of ambient pore water induced by the bubble flow. Based on a simple momentum exchange model, we showed that the relationship between the mean pore water velocity and gas release rate is consistent with the scaling solution for the bubble plume. These findings have important implications for studies of natural gas emission and air sparging, as well as fundamental research on bubble transport in porous media.
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21.  Tutolo, B.M., A.J. Luhmann, X.-Z. Kong, M.O. Saar, and W.E. Seyfried Jr. Experimental observation of permeability changes in dolomite at CO2 sequestration conditions, Environmental Science and Technology, 48/4, pp. 2445-2452, 2014. Abstract
Injection of cool CO2 into geothermally warm carbonate reservoirs for storage or geothermal energy production may lower near-well temperature and lead to mass transfer along flow paths leading away from the well. To investigate this process, a dolomite core was subjected to a 650 h, high pressure, CO2 saturated, flow-through experiment. Permeability increased from 10–15.9 to 10–15.2 m2 over the initial 216 h at 21 °C, decreased to 10–16.2 m2 over 289 h at 50 °C, largely due to thermally driven CO2 exsolution, and reached a final value of 10–16.4 m2 after 145 h at 100 °C due to continued exsolution and the onset of dolomite precipitation. Theoretical calculations show that CO2 exsolution results in a maximum pore space CO2 saturation of 0.5, and steady state relative permeabilities of CO2 and water on the order of 0.0065 and 0.1, respectively. Post-experiment imagery reveals matrix dissolution at low temperatures, and subsequent filling-in of flow passages at elevated temperature. Geochemical calculations indicate that reservoir fluids subjected to a thermal gradient may exsolve and precipitate up to 200 cm3 CO2 and 1.5 cm3 dolomite per kg of water, respectively, resulting in substantial porosity and permeability redistribution.
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20.  Luhmann, A.J., X.-Z. Kong, B.M. Tutolo, N. Garapati, B.C. Bagley, M.O. Saar, and W.E. Seyfried Jr. Experimental dissolution of dolomite by CO2-charged brine at 100oC and 150 bar: Evolution of porosity, permeability, and reactive surface area, Chemical Geology, 380, pp. 145-160, 2014. Abstract
Hydrothermal flow experiments of single-pass injection of CO2-charged brine were conducted on nine dolomite cores to examine fluid–rock reactions in dolomite reservoirs under geologic carbon sequestration conditions. Post-experimental X-ray computed tomography (XRCT) analysis illustrates a range of dissolution patterns, and significant increases in core bulk permeability were measured as the dolomite dissolved. Outflow fluids were below dolomite saturation, and cation concentrations decreased with time due to reductions in reactive surface area with reaction progress. To determine changes in reactive surface area, we employ a power-law relationship between reactive surface area and porosity (Luquot and Gouze, 2009). The exponent in this relationship is interpreted to be a geometrical parameter that controls the degree of surface area change per change in core porosity. Combined with XRCT reconstructions of dissolution patterns, we demonstrate that this exponent is inversely related to both the flow path diameter and tortuosity of the dissolution channel. Even though XRCT reconstructions illustrate dissolution at selected regions within each core, relatively high Ba and Mn recoveries in fluid samples suggest that dissolution occurred along the core’s entire length and width. Analysis of porosity–permeability data indicates an increase in the rate of permeability enhancement per increase in porosity with reaction progress as dissolution channels lengthen along the core. Finally, we incorporate the surface area–porosity model of Luquot and Gouze (2009) with our experimentally fit parameters into TOUGHREACT to simulate experimental observations.
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19.  Tutolo, B.M., X.-Z. Kong, W.E. Seyfried Jr., and M.O. Saar Internal consistency in aqueous geochemical data revisited: Applications to the aluminum system, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 133, pp. 216-234, 2014. Abstract
Internal consistency of thermodynamic data has long been considered vital for confident calculations of aqueous geochemical processes. However, an internally consistent mineral thermodynamic data set is not necessarily consistent with calculations of aqueous species thermodynamic properties due, potentially, to improper or inconsistent constraints used in the derivation process. In this study, we attempt to accommodate the need for a mineral thermodynamic data set that is internally consistent with respect to aqueous species thermodynamic properties by adapting the least squares optimization methods of Powell and Holland (1985). This adapted method allows for both the derivation of mineral thermodynamic properties from fluid chemistry measurements of solutions in equilibrium with mineral assemblages, as well as estimates of the uncertainty on the derived results. Using a large number of phase equilibria, solubility, and calorimetric measurements, we have developed a thermodynamic data set of 12 key aluminum-bearing mineral phases. These data are derived to be consistent with Na+ and K+ speciation data presented by Shock and Helgeson (1988), H4SiO4(aq) data presented by Stefánsson (2001), and the Al speciation data set presented by Tagirov and Schott (2001). Many of the constraining phase equilibrium measurements are exactly the same as those used to develop other thermodynamic data, yet our derived values tend to be quite different than some of the others’ due to our choices of reference data. The differing values of mineral thermodynamic properties have implications for calculations of Al mineral solubilities; specifically, kaolinite solubilities calculated with the developed data set are as much as 6.75 times lower and 73% greater than those calculated with Helgeson et al. (1978) and Holland and Powell (2011) data, respectively. Where possible, calculations and experimental data are compared at low T, and the disagreement between the two sources reiterates the common assertion that low-T measurements of phase equilibria and mineral solubilities in the aluminum system rarely represent equilibrium between water and well-crystallized, aluminum-bearing minerals. As an ancillary benefit of the derived data, we show that it may be combined with high precision measurements of aqueous complex association constants to derive neutral species activity coefficients in supercritical fluids. Although this contribution is specific to the aluminum system, the methods and concepts developed here can help to improve the calculation of water–rock interactions in a broad range of earth systems.
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18.  Ma, Y., A. Scheuermann, D. Bringemeier, X.-Z. Kong, and L. Li Size distribution measurement for densely binding bubbles via image analysis, Experiments in Fluids, 55/1860, 2014. Abstract
For densely binding bubble clusters, conventional image analysis methods are unable to provide an accurate measurement of the bubble size distribution because of the difficulties with clearly identifying the outline edges of individual bubbles. In contrast, the bright centroids of individual bubbles can be distinctly defined and thus accurately measured. By taking this advantage, we developed a new measurement method based on a linear relationship between the bubble radius and the radius of its bright centroid so to avoid the need to identify the bubble outline edges. The linear relationship and method were thoroughly tested for 2D bubble clusters in a highly binding condition and found to be effective and robust for measuring the bubble sizes.
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17.  Kong, X.-Z., and M.O. Saar DBCreate: A SUPCRT92-based program for producing EQ3/6, TOUGHREACT, and GWB thermodynamic databases at user-defined T and P, Computers and Geosciences, 51, pp. 415-417, 2013. Abstract
SUPCRT92 is a widely used software package for calculating the standard thermodynamic properties of minerals, gases, aqueous species, and reactions. However, it is labor-intensive and error-prone to use it directly to produce databases for geochemical modeling programs such as EQ3/6, the Geochemist’s Workbench, and TOUGHREACT. DBCreate is a SUPCRT92-based software program written in FORTRAN90/95 and was developed in order to produce the required databases for these programs in a rapid and convenient way. This paper describes the overall structure of the program and provides detailed usage instructions.
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16.  Kong, X.-Z., and M.O. Saar Numerical study of the effects of permeability heterogeneity on density-driven convective mixing during CO2 dissolution storage, Int. J. Greenhouse Gas Control, 19, pp. 160-173, 2013. Abstract
Permanence and security of carbon dioxide (CO2) in geologic formations requires dissolution of CO2 into brine, which slightly increases the brine density. Previous studies have shown that this small increase in brine density induces convective currents, which greatly enhances the mixing efficiency and thus CO2 storage capacity and rate in the brine. Density-driven convection, in turn, is known to be largely dominated by permeability heterogeneity. This study explores the relationship between the process of density-driven convection and the permeability heterogeneity of an aquifer during CO2 dissolution storage, using high-resolution numerical simulations. While the porosity is kept constant, the heterogeneity of the aquifer is introduced through a spatially varying permeability field, characterized by the Dykstra-Parsons coefficient and the correlation length. Depending on the concentration profile of dissolved CO2, we classify the convective finger patterns as dispersive, preferential, and unbiased fingering. Our results indicate that the transition between unbiased and both preferential and dispersive fingering is mainly governed by the Dykstra-Parsons coefficient, whereas the transition between preferential and dispersive fingering is controlled by the permeability correlation length. Furthermore, we find that the CO2 dissolution flux at the top boundary will reach a time-independent steady state. Although this flux strongly correlates with permeability distribution, it generally increases with the permeability heterogeneity when the correlation length is less than the system size.
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15.  Luhmann, A.J., X.-Z. Kong, B.M. Tutolo, K. Ding, M.O. Saar, and W.E. Seyfried Jr. Permeability reduction produced by grain reorganization and accumulation of exsolved CO2 during geologic carbon sequestration: A new CO2 trapping mechanism, Environmental Science and Technlogy, 47/1, pp. 242-251, 2013. Abstract
Carbon sequestration experiments were conducted on uncemented sediment and lithified rock from the Eau Claire Formation, which consisted primarily of K-feldspar and quartz. Cores were heated to accentuate reactivity between fluid and mineral grains and to force CO2 exsolution. Measured permeability of one sediment core ultimately reduced by 4 orders of magnitude as it was incrementally heated from 21 to 150 °C. Water-rock interaction produced some alteration, yielding sub-?m clay precipitation on K-feldspar grains in the core’s upstream end. Experimental results also revealed abundant newly formed pore space in regions of the core, and in some cases pores that were several times larger than the average grain size of the sediment. These large pores likely formed from elevated localized pressure caused by rapid CO2 exsolution within the core and/or an accumulating CO2 phase capable of pushing out surrounding sediment. CO2 filled the pores and blocked flow pathways. Comparison with a similar experiment using a solid arkose core indicates that CO2 accumulation and grain reorganization mainly contributed to permeability reduction during the heated sediment core experiment. This suggests that CO2 injection into sediments may store more CO2 and cause additional permeability reduction than is possible in lithified rock due to grain reorganization.
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14.  Kong, X.-Z., M. Holzner, F. Stauffer, and W. Kinzelbach Time-resolved 3D visualization of air injection in a liquidsaturated refractive-index-matched porous medium, Exp. Fluids, 50, pp. 1659-1670, 2011. Abstract
The main goal of this work is to implement and validate a visualization method with a given temporal/spatial resolution to obtain the dynamic three-dimensional (3D) structure of an air plume injected into a deformable liquid-saturated porous medium. The air plume develops via continuous air injection through an orifice at the bottom of a loose packing of crushed silica grains. The packing is saturated by a glycerin-water solution having the same refractive index and placed in a rectangular glass container. By using high-speed image acquisition through laser scanning, the dynamic air plume is recorded by sequential tomographic imaging. Due to the overlap between adjacent laser sheets and the light reflection, air bubbles are multiply exposed in the imaging along the scanning direction. Four image processing methods are presented for the removal of these redundant pixels arising from multiple exposure. The respective results are discussed by comparing the reconstructed air plume volume with the injected one and by evaluating the morphological consistency of the obtained air plume. After processing, a 3D dynamic air flow pattern can be obtained, allowing a quantitative analysis of the air flow dynamics on pore-scale. In the present experimental configuration, the temporal resolution is 0.1 s and the spatial resolution is 0.17 mm in plane and about 1 mm out of plane of the laser sheet.
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13.  Kong, X.-Z., and W. Kinzelbach Morphodynamics during air injection into water-saturated movable spherical granulates, Chem. Eng. Sci., Chem.Eng.Sci., 65, pp. 4652-4660, 2010. Download
12.  Kong, X.-Z., and W. Kinzelbach Compaction and size segregation in a liquid-saturated grain packing due to pulsation effect during air injection, Chem.Eng.Sci., 65, pp. 2680-2688, 2010. Abstract
Injecting air into two-dimensional vertical liquid-saturated assemblies of grains causes a rearrangement of the grains. The interaction of the air flow injected at the bottom with the grains and the liquid leads to a mobilization of the grains, in which air channels migrate and grain clusters undergo shearing. The channel migration comes to a stop after some time, leaving one thin and stable preferential channel for air flow. Furthermore, the grain packing is compacted due to a rearrangement process caused by the pulsating movement of air channels. The compaction process is found to obey a slow exponential growth law. Additionally, the pulsation introduces size segregation in the packing. This is visualized by a set of tracing experiments showing that the coarser grains tend to accumulate at the downstream end of the preferential air pathway. However, the pulsating strength decreases sharply as the grain size increases. Therefore no segregation was observed in the coarse packing. A stabilization process of the preferential air channel can be described by a lower bound of critical channel size assuming the validity of Hagen–Poiseuille air flow inside the channel. Nevertheless, the channel size could not exceed an upper size which is determined by the capillary instability, assuming a quasi-static equilibrium of the dilating process of the air channel.
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11.  Stauffer, F., X.-Z. Kong, and W. Kinzelbach A stochastic model for air injection into saturated porous media, Water Resour, 32, pp. 1180-1186, 2009. Download
10.  Kong, X.-Z., and W. Kinzelbach Migration of air channels: an instability of air flow in mobile saturated porous media, Chem.Eng.Sci., 64, pp. 1528-1535, 2009. Download
9.  Wang, W.-J., X.-Z. Kong, and Z.-G. Zhu Friction and relative energy dissipation in sheared granular materials, Phys.Rev. E, 75/041302, 2007. Download
8.  Kong, X.-Z., M.-B. Hu, Q.-S. Wu, and Y.-H. Wu Effects of vibration frequency on intruders’ position in granular bed, Phys. Lett A, 356, pp. 267-271, 2006. Download
7.  Kong, X.-Z., M.-B. Hu, Q.-S. Wu, and Y.-H. Wu Effects of bottleneck on granular convection cells and segregation, Granular Matter, 8, pp. 119-124, 2006. Download
6.  Kong, X.-Z., M.-B. Hu, Q.-S. Wu, and Y.-H. Wu Kinetic energy sandpile model for conical sandpile development by evolving rivers, Phys. Lett A, 348, pp. 77-81, 2006. Download
5.  Hu, M.-B., X.-Z. Kong, Q.-S. Wu, and Y.-H. Wu Effects of container geometry on granular segregation pattern, Chinese Physics, 14, pp. 1793-1800, 2005. Download
4.  Hu, M.-B., X.-Z. Kong, Q.-S. Wu, and Y.-H. Wu Granular segregation in a multi-bottleneck container: Mobility effect, Int. J. Mod. Phys. B, 19, pp. 1793-1800, 2005. Download
3.  Kong, X.-Z., M.-B. Hu, Q.-S. Wu, and Y.-H. Wu Ring-like size segregation in vibrated cylinder with a bottleneck, Phys. Lett A, 341, pp. 278-284, 2005. Download
2.  Hu, M.-B., Q.-S. Wu, X.-Z. Kong, and Y.-H. Wu Discharge oscillation of particles from a vertical Pipe with capillary outlet, Chinese Science Bulletin, 50, pp. 1076-1078, 2005. Download
1.  Hu, M.-B., X.-Z. Kong, Q.-S. Wu, and Z.-G. Zhu Experimental study of energy absorption properties of granular materials under low frequency vibrations, Int. J. Mod. Phys. B., 18, pp. 2708-2712, 2004. Download

THESES

2.  Kong, X.Z. Experimental investigation of air injection in saturated unconsolidated porous media, Dissertation ETH Zurich, 128 pp., 2010. Abstract
The work described in this thesis is primarily concerned with the construction and study of laboratory scale models for the process of air injection into liquid-saturated grain packing. Experiments, both in two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) setups, were carried out using water-saturated packings of glass beads and/or packings of crashed fused silica glass grains saturated with a glycerin-water solution. High resolution digital images of the invasion patterns were recorded and analyzed. During air injection into a vertically-placed 2D glass bead packing saturated with water, three stages were identified, a tree-like pattern, a fluidized pattern, and a migrating single-channel pattern. The expansion of the tree-like pattern behaves in a diffusion-like manner as the air branches advance upward randomly, and finally reach a more or less constant width. The starting position of the fluidized pattern was quantitatively estimated via balancing the pressure forces between the effective stress due to the weight of the grains and the pressure resistance on the displaced fluid combined with the capillary pressure. Four dynamic regimes were distinguished: regime (i) where the fluidization stops somewhere between the top of the packing and the injection orifice, a transition regime (ii), regime (iii) where the fluidization reaches the injection orifice, and regime (iv) where the deformation of the packing appears as soon as the air is injected. A critical injection rate \(Q_{f}\) is defined to identify the transition regime. The value of \(Q_{f}\) can be determined via \(Q_{a}\), where \(Q_{a}\) is calculated as averaged flux per channel. The regime (iv) is characterized by a characteristic injection rate \(Q_{c}\), which is estimated by balancing the pressure gradient of the air flow and the overburden pressure gradient of the medium. The phenomenon of the migrating channel is measured quantitatively in two parts, before and after breakthrough. Before breakthrough, the characteristic measurements concern maximum vertical advance, maximum horizontal advance, air volumetric fraction, ratio of total surface area to volume, specific surface area of the air phase, and box-counting dimension. After breakthrough, the characteristic measurements focus on mean horizontal position of air channel, horizontal shifting distance, lateral movement distance, and lateral movement width. Before breakthrough, the maximum vertical height of the air structure approximately advances linearly with time. The maximum horizontal advance reaches a maximum value and then levels off for the rest of the time. Air volumetric fraction decreases monotonically with time, and finally levels off asymptotically to an approximate constant. In all cases, the air volumetric fraction for packings of small grains is larger than that for packings of large grains. The ratio of total surface area to volume varies in time similarly to the air volumetric fraction. However, the ratio of total surface area to volume can clearly be grouped according to the grain size, which is also true for the specific surface area of the air phase. Both can be scaled with the Bond number with a power of -0.5. After breakthrough, the migration process is studied by analyzing the mean horizontal position, horizontal shifting distance, lateral movement distance, and lateral movement width of the air channel. The results indicate that over 99% of the horizontal shifting distance is less than 10 mm. Furthermore, the its probability density function indicates that the air channel oscillates more frequently in the packing of small grains than in the packing of large grains. The interaction of the air flow with the grains and the liquid leads to a mobilization of the grains, in which air channels migrate and grain clusters undergo shearing. The channel migration comes to a stop after some time, leaving one thin and stable preferential channel for air flow. Assuming Hagen-Poiseuille’s formula to be applicable, the size of the preferential channel should exceed a lower threshold \(D_{ch}\) so that a mechanical equilibrium at the channel interface is maintained, but it should stay below an upper threshold \(D_{max}\) so that a stable air channel is sustained. A rearrangement of the grains is observed which is caused by a pulsation effect. It induces a compaction process, in which the individual grains are disassembled from the region of non-zero shear rate and then reassembled into the compacted clusters of the region of zero shear rate. It also induces a size segregation process, in which smaller grains move into the spaces beneath larger grains. By using high-speed image acquisition through laser scanning, the 3D dynamic air plume is recorded by sequential tomographic imaging. Due to the overlap between adjacent laser sheets and the light reflection, air bubbles are multiply exposed in the imaging along the scanning direction. A “curvature” method, based on a threshold on the curvature of grey-value in scanning direction, is proposed to remove the redundant pixels. The respective results are discussed by comparing the reconstructed air plume volume with the injected one and by evaluating the morphological consistency of the obtained air plume. The reconstructed air plume is further investigated with respect to its growth characteristics, such as breakthrough, air volume fraction, and air channel migration.
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1.  Kong, X.Z. Investigation on some dynamical characteristics of granular material, MSc Thesis University of Science and Technology of China, 60 pp., 2006. Abstract
This paper presents experimental and theoretical studies on segregation of granular media subjected to external vertical sinusoidal vibration, vibration energy absorption properties of granular materials, dynamic behaviors of sandpile formation, and the stop-and-go motion in vertical pipe flow. Results of our studies not only extend the knowledge of non-linear properties of granular media under some dynamical conditions, such as vibrating, shearing, and flowing etc, but also is a theoretical instruction in the processing, storing and transporting of granular media in applied engineering. In the experiments with vertical sinusoidal vibration of granular material in containers with bottleneck(s), new segregation patterns and convection properties were found: (1)Under the condition of two-dimensional containers with one bottleneck, with the variation of the width of bottleneck, big and small particles show “Two Side segregation Pattern”, “Left Side segregation Pattern” and a pattern that big particles segregate to the upper-left part of the container. Furthermore, the angle of segregation interface and the angle of free-surface of granular bed follow a determinate rule, and the convection rolls of granular bed turn relatively and regularly. (2)Under the condition of three-dimensional container with one bottleneck, big particles aggregate and form a “Ring-like Segregation” pattern, and the position and length of big particle cluster can be adjusted by changing the vibration frequency. And mechanism of segregation is proposed. (3)Under the condition of three-dimensional container with a series of bottlenecks along its vertical axis, according to the differences of “Mobility” of each particle, particles will segregate alternantly. The simulation results of discrete element method (DEM) are in agreement with the experimental observations. The discovering of these new segregation patterns are of theoretical significance to studying the complex dynamical properties of granular materials, which also would be the engineering instruction for avoiding or enhancing segregation in the processing and transporting of granular materials. A DEM simulation of particle segregation patterns controlled by vibration frequency is carried out. It was found that: at low vibration frequency, large particles clustered on the top of the granular bed; as the frequency raised, large particles sinked into the granular assembly; at very high vibration frequency, large particles went up again. The mechanism of the transition of large particles clustering on the top—sinking—rising is studied in detail. The relation within inputted energy, void fraction and the effective restitution coefficient are found out. A Cellular Automata (CA) simulation of dynamic of sandpile formation is performed. A kinetic energy sandpile model, taking into account of grain inertia and the moving directions of the toppling grain, is developed and used to study the behaviour of sandpiles. In this model, the inertial effects are based on the toppling kinetic energy. The CA model reproduces the phenomenon of sandpile formation by revolving rivers which was found in previous experimental study in literature, and the relation between anglar speed and the height of sandpile is obtained. The simulation resluts reveal the non-symmetry of the sandpile formation and the selectivity of motion path of sand. The concepts and measuring method of internal friction are successfully applied to the measurement of low frequency vibration energy absorption properties of granular materials. An Invert Torsion Pendulum is designed to measure the energy absorption properties of granular materials under low frequency vibration using the free-attenuation mode. The vibration energy absorption of granular material decreases non-linearly with the increment of vibration amplitude under low frequency vibration. These results here can provide evidence for the understanding of some granular collective behaviors. When particles discharge from an open-top capillary pipe, it was found that, with particles of a particular size range, the outflux fluctuates greatly with time and the bulk dense granular flow in the pipe shows stop-and-go motion when the filling height is much larger than a threshold. When the filling height reduces towards the threshold, undergoing a transitional stage, the outflux and the bulk movement become much more stable. A heuristic theory taking into account of the granular compaction and interstitial air pressure effect is proposed to explain the appearing and disappearing of the stop-and-go motion. Finally, the conclusion of this paper and the prospect of further work are presented.
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REFEREED PUBLICATIONS IN JOURNALS

25.  Galindo-Torres, S.A., T. Molebatsi, X.Z. Kong, A. Scheuermann, D. Bringemeier, and L. Li Scaling solutions for connectivity and conductivity of continuous random networks, Physical Review E, Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics, 92/4, pp. 041001, 2015. Abstract
Connectivity and conductivity of two-dimensional fracture networks (FNs), as an important type of continuous random networks, are examined systematically through Monte Carlo simulations under a variety of conditions, including different power law distributions of the fracture lengths and domain sizes. The simulation results are analyzed using analogies of the percolation theory for discrete random networks. With a characteristic length scale and conductivity scale introduced, we show that the connectivity and conductivity of FNs can be well described by universal scaling solutions. These solutions shed light on previous observations of scale-dependent FN behavior and provide a powerful method for quantifying effective bulk properties of continuous random networks.
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24.  Tutolo, B.M., X.-Z. Kong, W.E. Seyfried Jr., and M.O. Saar High performance reactive transport simulations examining the effects of thermal, hydraulic, and chemical (THC) gradients on fluid injectivity at carbonate CCUS reservoir scales, International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, 39, pp. 285-301, 2015. Abstract
Carbonate minerals and CO2 are both considerably more soluble at low temperatures than they are at elevated temperatures. This inverse solubility has led a number of researchers to hypothesize that injecting low-temperature (i.e., less than the background reservoir temperature) CO2 into deep, saline reservoirs for CO2 Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) will dissolve CO2 and carbonate minerals near the injection well and subsequently exsolve and re-precipitate these phases as the fluids flow into the geothermally warm portion of the reservoir. In this study, we utilize high performance computing to examine the coupled effects of cool CO2 injection and background hydraulic head gradients on reservoir-scale mineral volume changes. We employ the fully coupled reactive transport simulator PFLOTRAN with calculations distributed over up to 800 processors to test 21 scenarios designed to represent a range of reservoir depths, hydraulic head gradients, and CO2 injection rates and temperatures. In the default simulations, 50 °C CO2 is injected at a rate of 50 kg/s into a 200 bar, 100 °C calcite or dolomite reservoir. By comparing these simulations with others run at varying conditions, we show that the effect of cool CO2 injection on reservoir-scale mineral volume changes tends to be relatively minor. We conclude that the low heat capacity of CO2 effectively prevents low-temperature CO2 injection from decreasing the temperature across large portions of the simulated carbonate reservoirs. This small thermal perturbation, combined with the low relative permeability of brine within the supercritical CO2 plume, yields limited dissolution and precipitation effects directly attributable to cool CO2 injection. Finally, we calculate that relatively high water-to-rock ratios, which may occur over much longer CCUS reservoir lifetimes or in materials with sufficiently high brine relative permeability within the supercritical CO2 plume, would be required to substantially affect injectivity through thermally-induced mineral dissolution and precipitation. Importantly, this study shows the utility of reservoir scale-reactive transport simulators for testing hypotheses and placing laboratory-scale observations into a CCUS reservoir-scale context.
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23.  Tutolo, B.M., A.J. Luhmann, X.-Z. Kong, M.O. Saar, and W.E. Seyfried Jr. CO2 sequestration in feldspar-rich sandstone: Coupled evolution of fluid chemistry, mineral reaction rates, and hydrogeochemical properties, Geochimica Et Cosmochimica Acta, 160, pp. 132-154, 2015. Abstract
To investigate CO2 Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) in sandstones, we performed three 150 °C flow-through experiments on K-feldspar-rich cores from the Eau Claire formation. By characterizing fluid and solid samples from these experiments using a suite of analytical techniques, we explored the coupled evolution of fluid chemistry, mineral reaction rates, and hydrogeochemical properties during CO2 sequestration in feldspar-rich sandstone. Overall, our results confirm predictions that the heightened acidity resulting from supercritical CO2 injection into feldspar-rich sandstone will dissolve primary feldspars and precipitate secondary aluminum minerals. A core through which CO2-rich deionized water was recycled for 52 days decreased in bulk permeability, exhibited generally low porosity associated with high surface area in post-experiment core sub-samples, and produced an Al hydroxide secondary mineral, such as boehmite. However, two samples subjected to ?3 day single-pass experiments run with CO2-rich, 0.94 mol/kg NaCl brines decreased in bulk permeability, showed generally elevated porosity associated with elevated surface area in post-experiment core sub-samples, and produced a phase with kaolinite-like stoichiometry. CO2-induced metal mobilization during the experiments was relatively minor and likely related to Ca mineral dissolution. Based on the relatively rapid approach to equilibrium, the relatively slow near-equilibrium reaction rates, and the minor magnitudes of permeability changes in these experiments, we conclude that CCUS systems with projected lifetimes of several decades are geochemically feasible in the feldspar-rich sandstone end-member examined here. Additionally, the observation that K-feldspar dissolution rates calculated from our whole-rock experiments are in good agreement with literature parameterizations suggests that the latter can be utilized to model CCUS in K-feldspar-rich sandstone. Finally, by performing a number of reactive transport modeling experiments to explore processes occurring during the flow-through experiments, we have found that the overall progress of feldspar hydrolysis is negligibly affected by quartz dissolution, but significantly impacted by the rates of secondary mineral precipitation and their effect on feldspar saturation state. The observations produced here are critical to the development of models of CCUS operations, yet more work, particularly in the quantification of coupled dissolution and precipitation processes, will be required in order to produce models that can accurately predict the behavior of these systems.
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22.  Ma, Y., X. -Z. Kong, A. Scheuermann, S. A. Galindo-Torres, D. Bringemeier, and L. Li Microbubble transport in water-saturated porous media, Water Resources Research, 51/6, pp. 4359-4373, 2015. Abstract
Laboratory experiments were conducted to investigate flow of discrete microbubbles through a water-saturated porous medium. During the experiments, bubbles, released from a diffuser, moved upward through a quasi-2-D flume filled with transparent water-based gelbeads and formed a distinct plume that could be well registered by a calibrated camera. Outflowing bubbles were collected on the top of the flume using volumetric burettes for flux measurements. We quantified the scaling behaviors between the gas (bubble) release rates and various characteristic parameters of the bubble plume, including plume tip velocity, plume width, and breakthrough time of the plume front. The experiments also revealed circulations of ambient pore water induced by the bubble flow. Based on a simple momentum exchange model, we showed that the relationship between the mean pore water velocity and gas release rate is consistent with the scaling solution for the bubble plume. These findings have important implications for studies of natural gas emission and air sparging, as well as fundamental research on bubble transport in porous media.
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21.  Tutolo, B.M., A.J. Luhmann, X.-Z. Kong, M.O. Saar, and W.E. Seyfried Jr. Experimental observation of permeability changes in dolomite at CO2 sequestration conditions, Environmental Science and Technology, 48/4, pp. 2445-2452, 2014. Abstract
Injection of cool CO2 into geothermally warm carbonate reservoirs for storage or geothermal energy production may lower near-well temperature and lead to mass transfer along flow paths leading away from the well. To investigate this process, a dolomite core was subjected to a 650 h, high pressure, CO2 saturated, flow-through experiment. Permeability increased from 10–15.9 to 10–15.2 m2 over the initial 216 h at 21 °C, decreased to 10–16.2 m2 over 289 h at 50 °C, largely due to thermally driven CO2 exsolution, and reached a final value of 10–16.4 m2 after 145 h at 100 °C due to continued exsolution and the onset of dolomite precipitation. Theoretical calculations show that CO2 exsolution results in a maximum pore space CO2 saturation of 0.5, and steady state relative permeabilities of CO2 and water on the order of 0.0065 and 0.1, respectively. Post-experiment imagery reveals matrix dissolution at low temperatures, and subsequent filling-in of flow passages at elevated temperature. Geochemical calculations indicate that reservoir fluids subjected to a thermal gradient may exsolve and precipitate up to 200 cm3 CO2 and 1.5 cm3 dolomite per kg of water, respectively, resulting in substantial porosity and permeability redistribution.
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20.  Luhmann, A.J., X.-Z. Kong, B.M. Tutolo, N. Garapati, B.C. Bagley, M.O. Saar, and W.E. Seyfried Jr. Experimental dissolution of dolomite by CO2-charged brine at 100oC and 150 bar: Evolution of porosity, permeability, and reactive surface area, Chemical Geology, 380, pp. 145-160, 2014. Abstract
Hydrothermal flow experiments of single-pass injection of CO2-charged brine were conducted on nine dolomite cores to examine fluid–rock reactions in dolomite reservoirs under geologic carbon sequestration conditions. Post-experimental X-ray computed tomography (XRCT) analysis illustrates a range of dissolution patterns, and significant increases in core bulk permeability were measured as the dolomite dissolved. Outflow fluids were below dolomite saturation, and cation concentrations decreased with time due to reductions in reactive surface area with reaction progress. To determine changes in reactive surface area, we employ a power-law relationship between reactive surface area and porosity (Luquot and Gouze, 2009). The exponent in this relationship is interpreted to be a geometrical parameter that controls the degree of surface area change per change in core porosity. Combined with XRCT reconstructions of dissolution patterns, we demonstrate that this exponent is inversely related to both the flow path diameter and tortuosity of the dissolution channel. Even though XRCT reconstructions illustrate dissolution at selected regions within each core, relatively high Ba and Mn recoveries in fluid samples suggest that dissolution occurred along the core’s entire length and width. Analysis of porosity–permeability data indicates an increase in the rate of permeability enhancement per increase in porosity with reaction progress as dissolution channels lengthen along the core. Finally, we incorporate the surface area–porosity model of Luquot and Gouze (2009) with our experimentally fit parameters into TOUGHREACT to simulate experimental observations.
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19.  Tutolo, B.M., X.-Z. Kong, W.E. Seyfried Jr., and M.O. Saar Internal consistency in aqueous geochemical data revisited: Applications to the aluminum system, Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, 133, pp. 216-234, 2014. Abstract
Internal consistency of thermodynamic data has long been considered vital for confident calculations of aqueous geochemical processes. However, an internally consistent mineral thermodynamic data set is not necessarily consistent with calculations of aqueous species thermodynamic properties due, potentially, to improper or inconsistent constraints used in the derivation process. In this study, we attempt to accommodate the need for a mineral thermodynamic data set that is internally consistent with respect to aqueous species thermodynamic properties by adapting the least squares optimization methods of Powell and Holland (1985). This adapted method allows for both the derivation of mineral thermodynamic properties from fluid chemistry measurements of solutions in equilibrium with mineral assemblages, as well as estimates of the uncertainty on the derived results. Using a large number of phase equilibria, solubility, and calorimetric measurements, we have developed a thermodynamic data set of 12 key aluminum-bearing mineral phases. These data are derived to be consistent with Na+ and K+ speciation data presented by Shock and Helgeson (1988), H4SiO4(aq) data presented by Stefánsson (2001), and the Al speciation data set presented by Tagirov and Schott (2001). Many of the constraining phase equilibrium measurements are exactly the same as those used to develop other thermodynamic data, yet our derived values tend to be quite different than some of the others’ due to our choices of reference data. The differing values of mineral thermodynamic properties have implications for calculations of Al mineral solubilities; specifically, kaolinite solubilities calculated with the developed data set are as much as 6.75 times lower and 73% greater than those calculated with Helgeson et al. (1978) and Holland and Powell (2011) data, respectively. Where possible, calculations and experimental data are compared at low T, and the disagreement between the two sources reiterates the common assertion that low-T measurements of phase equilibria and mineral solubilities in the aluminum system rarely represent equilibrium between water and well-crystallized, aluminum-bearing minerals. As an ancillary benefit of the derived data, we show that it may be combined with high precision measurements of aqueous complex association constants to derive neutral species activity coefficients in supercritical fluids. Although this contribution is specific to the aluminum system, the methods and concepts developed here can help to improve the calculation of water–rock interactions in a broad range of earth systems.
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18.  Ma, Y., A. Scheuermann, D. Bringemeier, X.-Z. Kong, and L. Li Size distribution measurement for densely binding bubbles via image analysis, Experiments in Fluids, 55/1860, 2014. Abstract
For densely binding bubble clusters, conventional image analysis methods are unable to provide an accurate measurement of the bubble size distribution because of the difficulties with clearly identifying the outline edges of individual bubbles. In contrast, the bright centroids of individual bubbles can be distinctly defined and thus accurately measured. By taking this advantage, we developed a new measurement method based on a linear relationship between the bubble radius and the radius of its bright centroid so to avoid the need to identify the bubble outline edges. The linear relationship and method were thoroughly tested for 2D bubble clusters in a highly binding condition and found to be effective and robust for measuring the bubble sizes.
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17.  Kong, X.-Z., and M.O. Saar DBCreate: A SUPCRT92-based program for producing EQ3/6, TOUGHREACT, and GWB thermodynamic databases at user-defined T and P, Computers and Geosciences, 51, pp. 415-417, 2013. Abstract
SUPCRT92 is a widely used software package for calculating the standard thermodynamic properties of minerals, gases, aqueous species, and reactions. However, it is labor-intensive and error-prone to use it directly to produce databases for geochemical modeling programs such as EQ3/6, the Geochemist’s Workbench, and TOUGHREACT. DBCreate is a SUPCRT92-based software program written in FORTRAN90/95 and was developed in order to produce the required databases for these programs in a rapid and convenient way. This paper describes the overall structure of the program and provides detailed usage instructions.
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16.  Kong, X.-Z., and M.O. Saar Numerical study of the effects of permeability heterogeneity on density-driven convective mixing during CO2 dissolution storage, Int. J. Greenhouse Gas Control, 19, pp. 160-173, 2013. Abstract
Permanence and security of carbon dioxide (CO2) in geologic formations requires dissolution of CO2 into brine, which slightly increases the brine density. Previous studies have shown that this small increase in brine density induces convective currents, which greatly enhances the mixing efficiency and thus CO2 storage capacity and rate in the brine. Density-driven convection, in turn, is known to be largely dominated by permeability heterogeneity. This study explores the relationship between the process of density-driven convection and the permeability heterogeneity of an aquifer during CO2 dissolution storage, using high-resolution numerical simulations. While the porosity is kept constant, the heterogeneity of the aquifer is introduced through a spatially varying permeability field, characterized by the Dykstra-Parsons coefficient and the correlation length. Depending on the concentration profile of dissolved CO2, we classify the convective finger patterns as dispersive, preferential, and unbiased fingering. Our results indicate that the transition between unbiased and both preferential and dispersive fingering is mainly governed by the Dykstra-Parsons coefficient, whereas the transition between preferential and dispersive fingering is controlled by the permeability correlation length. Furthermore, we find that the CO2 dissolution flux at the top boundary will reach a time-independent steady state. Although this flux strongly correlates with permeability distribution, it generally increases with the permeability heterogeneity when the correlation length is less than the system size.
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15.  Luhmann, A.J., X.-Z. Kong, B.M. Tutolo, K. Ding, M.O. Saar, and W.E. Seyfried Jr. Permeability reduction produced by grain reorganization and accumulation of exsolved CO2 during geologic carbon sequestration: A new CO2 trapping mechanism, Environmental Science and Technlogy, 47/1, pp. 242-251, 2013. Abstract
Carbon sequestration experiments were conducted on uncemented sediment and lithified rock from the Eau Claire Formation, which consisted primarily of K-feldspar and quartz. Cores were heated to accentuate reactivity between fluid and mineral grains and to force CO2 exsolution. Measured permeability of one sediment core ultimately reduced by 4 orders of magnitude as it was incrementally heated from 21 to 150 °C. Water-rock interaction produced some alteration, yielding sub-?m clay precipitation on K-feldspar grains in the core’s upstream end. Experimental results also revealed abundant newly formed pore space in regions of the core, and in some cases pores that were several times larger than the average grain size of the sediment. These large pores likely formed from elevated localized pressure caused by rapid CO2 exsolution within the core and/or an accumulating CO2 phase capable of pushing out surrounding sediment. CO2 filled the pores and blocked flow pathways. Comparison with a similar experiment using a solid arkose core indicates that CO2 accumulation and grain reorganization mainly contributed to permeability reduction during the heated sediment core experiment. This suggests that CO2 injection into sediments may store more CO2 and cause additional permeability reduction than is possible in lithified rock due to grain reorganization.
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14.  Kong, X.-Z., M. Holzner, F. Stauffer, and W. Kinzelbach Time-resolved 3D visualization of air injection in a liquidsaturated refractive-index-matched porous medium, Exp. Fluids, 50, pp. 1659-1670, 2011. Abstract
The main goal of this work is to implement and validate a visualization method with a given temporal/spatial resolution to obtain the dynamic three-dimensional (3D) structure of an air plume injected into a deformable liquid-saturated porous medium. The air plume develops via continuous air injection through an orifice at the bottom of a loose packing of crushed silica grains. The packing is saturated by a glycerin-water solution having the same refractive index and placed in a rectangular glass container. By using high-speed image acquisition through laser scanning, the dynamic air plume is recorded by sequential tomographic imaging. Due to the overlap between adjacent laser sheets and the light reflection, air bubbles are multiply exposed in the imaging along the scanning direction. Four image processing methods are presented for the removal of these redundant pixels arising from multiple exposure. The respective results are discussed by comparing the reconstructed air plume volume with the injected one and by evaluating the morphological consistency of the obtained air plume. After processing, a 3D dynamic air flow pattern can be obtained, allowing a quantitative analysis of the air flow dynamics on pore-scale. In the present experimental configuration, the temporal resolution is 0.1 s and the spatial resolution is 0.17 mm in plane and about 1 mm out of plane of the laser sheet.
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13.  Kong, X.-Z., and W. Kinzelbach Morphodynamics during air injection into water-saturated movable spherical granulates, Chem. Eng. Sci., Chem.Eng.Sci., 65, pp. 4652-4660, 2010. Download
12.  Kong, X.-Z., and W. Kinzelbach Compaction and size segregation in a liquid-saturated grain packing due to pulsation effect during air injection, Chem.Eng.Sci., 65, pp. 2680-2688, 2010. Abstract
Injecting air into two-dimensional vertical liquid-saturated assemblies of grains causes a rearrangement of the grains. The interaction of the air flow injected at the bottom with the grains and the liquid leads to a mobilization of the grains, in which air channels migrate and grain clusters undergo shearing. The channel migration comes to a stop after some time, leaving one thin and stable preferential channel for air flow. Furthermore, the grain packing is compacted due to a rearrangement process caused by the pulsating movement of air channels. The compaction process is found to obey a slow exponential growth law. Additionally, the pulsation introduces size segregation in the packing. This is visualized by a set of tracing experiments showing that the coarser grains tend to accumulate at the downstream end of the preferential air pathway. However, the pulsating strength decreases sharply as the grain size increases. Therefore no segregation was observed in the coarse packing. A stabilization process of the preferential air channel can be described by a lower bound of critical channel size assuming the validity of Hagen–Poiseuille air flow inside the channel. Nevertheless, the channel size could not exceed an upper size which is determined by the capillary instability, assuming a quasi-static equilibrium of the dilating process of the air channel.
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11.  Stauffer, F., X.-Z. Kong, and W. Kinzelbach A stochastic model for air injection into saturated porous media, Water Resour, 32, pp. 1180-1186, 2009. Download
10.  Kong, X.-Z., and W. Kinzelbach Migration of air channels: an instability of air flow in mobile saturated porous media, Chem.Eng.Sci., 64, pp. 1528-1535, 2009. Download
9.  Wang, W.-J., X.-Z. Kong, and Z.-G. Zhu Friction and relative energy dissipation in sheared granular materials, Phys.Rev. E, 75/041302, 2007. Download
8.  Kong, X.-Z., M.-B. Hu, Q.-S. Wu, and Y.-H. Wu Effects of vibration frequency on intruders’ position in granular bed, Phys. Lett A, 356, pp. 267-271, 2006. Download
7.  Kong, X.-Z., M.-B. Hu, Q.-S. Wu, and Y.-H. Wu Effects of bottleneck on granular convection cells and segregation, Granular Matter, 8, pp. 119-124, 2006. Download
6.  Kong, X.-Z., M.-B. Hu, Q.-S. Wu, and Y.-H. Wu Kinetic energy sandpile model for conical sandpile development by evolving rivers, Phys. Lett A, 348, pp. 77-81, 2006. Download
5.  Hu, M.-B., X.-Z. Kong, Q.-S. Wu, and Y.-H. Wu Effects of container geometry on granular segregation pattern, Chinese Physics, 14, pp. 1793-1800, 2005. Download
4.  Hu, M.-B., X.-Z. Kong, Q.-S. Wu, and Y.-H. Wu Granular segregation in a multi-bottleneck container: Mobility effect, Int. J. Mod. Phys. B, 19, pp. 1793-1800, 2005. Download
3.  Kong, X.-Z., M.-B. Hu, Q.-S. Wu, and Y.-H. Wu Ring-like size segregation in vibrated cylinder with a bottleneck, Phys. Lett A, 341, pp. 278-284, 2005. Download
2.  Hu, M.-B., Q.-S. Wu, X.-Z. Kong, and Y.-H. Wu Discharge oscillation of particles from a vertical Pipe with capillary outlet, Chinese Science Bulletin, 50, pp. 1076-1078, 2005. Download
1.  Hu, M.-B., X.-Z. Kong, Q.-S. Wu, and Z.-G. Zhu Experimental study of energy absorption properties of granular materials under low frequency vibrations, Int. J. Mod. Phys. B., 18, pp. 2708-2712, 2004. Download

THESES

2.  Kong, X.Z. Experimental investigation of air injection in saturated unconsolidated porous media, Dissertation ETH Zurich, 128 pp., 2010. Abstract
The work described in this thesis is primarily concerned with the construction and study of laboratory scale models for the process of air injection into liquid-saturated grain packing. Experiments, both in two-dimensional (2D) and three-dimensional (3D) setups, were carried out using water-saturated packings of glass beads and/or packings of crashed fused silica glass grains saturated with a glycerin-water solution. High resolution digital images of the invasion patterns were recorded and analyzed. During air injection into a vertically-placed 2D glass bead packing saturated with water, three stages were identified, a tree-like pattern, a fluidized pattern, and a migrating single-channel pattern. The expansion of the tree-like pattern behaves in a diffusion-like manner as the air branches advance upward randomly, and finally reach a more or less constant width. The starting position of the fluidized pattern was quantitatively estimated via balancing the pressure forces between the effective stress due to the weight of the grains and the pressure resistance on the displaced fluid combined with the capillary pressure. Four dynamic regimes were distinguished: regime (i) where the fluidization stops somewhere between the top of the packing and the injection orifice, a transition regime (ii), regime (iii) where the fluidization reaches the injection orifice, and regime (iv) where the deformation of the packing appears as soon as the air is injected. A critical injection rate \(Q_{f}\) is defined to identify the transition regime. The value of \(Q_{f}\) can be determined via \(Q_{a}\), where \(Q_{a}\) is calculated as averaged flux per channel. The regime (iv) is characterized by a characteristic injection rate \(Q_{c}\), which is estimated by balancing the pressure gradient of the air flow and the overburden pressure gradient of the medium. The phenomenon of the migrating channel is measured quantitatively in two parts, before and after breakthrough. Before breakthrough, the characteristic measurements concern maximum vertical advance, maximum horizontal advance, air volumetric fraction, ratio of total surface area to volume, specific surface area of the air phase, and box-counting dimension. After breakthrough, the characteristic measurements focus on mean horizontal position of air channel, horizontal shifting distance, lateral movement distance, and lateral movement width. Before breakthrough, the maximum vertical height of the air structure approximately advances linearly with time. The maximum horizontal advance reaches a maximum value and then levels off for the rest of the time. Air volumetric fraction decreases monotonically with time, and finally levels off asymptotically to an approximate constant. In all cases, the air volumetric fraction for packings of small grains is larger than that for packings of large grains. The ratio of total surface area to volume varies in time similarly to the air volumetric fraction. However, the ratio of total surface area to volume can clearly be grouped according to the grain size, which is also true for the specific surface area of the air phase. Both can be scaled with the Bond number with a power of -0.5. After breakthrough, the migration process is studied by analyzing the mean horizontal position, horizontal shifting distance, lateral movement distance, and lateral movement width of the air channel. The results indicate that over 99% of the horizontal shifting distance is less than 10 mm. Furthermore, the its probability density function indicates that the air channel oscillates more frequently in the packing of small grains than in the packing of large grains. The interaction of the air flow with the grains and the liquid leads to a mobilization of the grains, in which air channels migrate and grain clusters undergo shearing. The channel migration comes to a stop after some time, leaving one thin and stable preferential channel for air flow. Assuming Hagen-Poiseuille’s formula to be applicable, the size of the preferential channel should exceed a lower threshold \(D_{ch}\) so that a mechanical equilibrium at the channel interface is maintained, but it should stay below an upper threshold \(D_{max}\) so that a stable air channel is sustained. A rearrangement of the grains is observed which is caused by a pulsation effect. It induces a compaction process, in which the individual grains are disassembled from the region of non-zero shear rate and then reassembled into the compacted clusters of the region of zero shear rate. It also induces a size segregation process, in which smaller grains move into the spaces beneath larger grains. By using high-speed image acquisition through laser scanning, the 3D dynamic air plume is recorded by sequential tomographic imaging. Due to the overlap between adjacent laser sheets and the light reflection, air bubbles are multiply exposed in the imaging along the scanning direction. A “curvature” method, based on a threshold on the curvature of grey-value in scanning direction, is proposed to remove the redundant pixels. The respective results are discussed by comparing the reconstructed air plume volume with the injected one and by evaluating the morphological consistency of the obtained air plume. The reconstructed air plume is further investigated with respect to its growth characteristics, such as breakthrough, air volume fraction, and air channel migration.
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1.  Kong, X.Z. Investigation on some dynamical characteristics of granular material, MSc Thesis University of Science and Technology of China, 60 pp., 2006. Abstract
This paper presents experimental and theoretical studies on segregation of granular media subjected to external vertical sinusoidal vibration, vibration energy absorption properties of granular materials, dynamic behaviors of sandpile formation, and the stop-and-go motion in vertical pipe flow. Results of our studies not only extend the knowledge of non-linear properties of granular media under some dynamical conditions, such as vibrating, shearing, and flowing etc, but also is a theoretical instruction in the processing, storing and transporting of granular media in applied engineering. In the experiments with vertical sinusoidal vibration of granular material in containers with bottleneck(s), new segregation patterns and convection properties were found: (1)Under the condition of two-dimensional containers with one bottleneck, with the variation of the width of bottleneck, big and small particles show “Two Side segregation Pattern”, “Left Side segregation Pattern” and a pattern that big particles segregate to the upper-left part of the container. Furthermore, the angle of segregation interface and the angle of free-surface of granular bed follow a determinate rule, and the convection rolls of granular bed turn relatively and regularly. (2)Under the condition of three-dimensional container with one bottleneck, big particles aggregate and form a “Ring-like Segregation” pattern, and the position and length of big particle cluster can be adjusted by changing the vibration frequency. And mechanism of segregation is proposed. (3)Under the condition of three-dimensional container with a series of bottlenecks along its vertical axis, according to the differences of “Mobility” of each particle, particles will segregate alternantly. The simulation results of discrete element method (DEM) are in agreement with the experimental observations. The discovering of these new segregation patterns are of theoretical significance to studying the complex dynamical properties of granular materials, which also would be the engineering instruction for avoiding or enhancing segregation in the processing and transporting of granular materials. A DEM simulation of particle segregation patterns controlled by vibration frequency is carried out. It was found that: at low vibration frequency, large particles clustered on the top of the granular bed; as the frequency raised, large particles sinked into the granular assembly; at very high vibration frequency, large particles went up again. The mechanism of the transition of large particles clustering on the top—sinking—rising is studied in detail. The relation within inputted energy, void fraction and the effective restitution coefficient are found out. A Cellular Automata (CA) simulation of dynamic of sandpile formation is performed. A kinetic energy sandpile model, taking into account of grain inertia and the moving directions of the toppling grain, is developed and used to study the behaviour of sandpiles. In this model, the inertial effects are based on the toppling kinetic energy. The CA model reproduces the phenomenon of sandpile formation by revolving rivers which was found in previous experimental study in literature, and the relation between anglar speed and the height of sandpile is obtained. The simulation resluts reveal the non-symmetry of the sandpile formation and the selectivity of motion path of sand. The concepts and measuring method of internal friction are successfully applied to the measurement of low frequency vibration energy absorption properties of granular materials. An Invert Torsion Pendulum is designed to measure the energy absorption properties of granular materials under low frequency vibration using the free-attenuation mode. The vibration energy absorption of granular material decreases non-linearly with the increment of vibration amplitude under low frequency vibration. These results here can provide evidence for the understanding of some granular collective behaviors. When particles discharge from an open-top capillary pipe, it was found that, with particles of a particular size range, the outflux fluctuates greatly with time and the bulk dense granular flow in the pipe shows stop-and-go motion when the filling height is much larger than a threshold. When the filling height reduces towards the threshold, undergoing a transitional stage, the outflux and the bulk movement become much more stable. A heuristic theory taking into account of the granular compaction and interstitial air pressure effect is proposed to explain the appearing and disappearing of the stop-and-go motion. Finally, the conclusion of this paper and the prospect of further work are presented.
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