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Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 8730749, 16 pages
Research Article

Retention of Nanoparticles: From Laboratory Cores to Outcrop Scale

Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Farzam Javadpour

Received 11 April 2017; Accepted 8 May 2017; Published 10 July 2017

Academic Editor: Jianchao Cai

Copyright © 2017 Harpreet Singh and Farzam Javadpour. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Laboratory experiments on small scale core plugs have shown controlled nanoparticles (NPs) retention. The length scale of subsurface media where NPs must be transported is an important factor that should be accounted for in a comprehensive manner when translating laboratory results to field scale. This study investigates the fraction of NPs retained inside porous media as a function of length scale of the media. A two-dimensional numerical model was used to simulate the retention of NPs at multiple scales of porous media, starting from laboratory scale cores to heterogeneous outcrop scales. Retention of NPs is modeled based on the concept of reversible and irreversible retention, by using the laboratory scale determined parameters. Our results show that the fraction of retained NPs increases nonlinearly with the length scale of the homogeneous media. The results also show that if the heterogeneity of the medium is consistent across scales, the fraction of retained NPs would behave just like homogeneous medium. In this study, small change in heterogeneity at two outcrop scales affects the retention of NPs, suggesting that heterogeneity may significantly impact the retention behavior of NPs that may not necessarily follow the behavior predicted from homogeneous cores (or periodically heterogeneous medium).