The three-dimensional velocity field and corresponding hydrodynamic dispersion in electrokinetic flow through a random bulk packing of impermeable, nonconducting spheres are studied by quantitative numerical analysis. First, a fixed bed with interparticle porosity of 0.38 is generated using a parallel collective-rearrangement algorithm. Then, the interparticle velocity field is calculated using the lattice-Boltzmann (LB) method, and a random-walk particle-tracking method is finally employed to model advection-diffusion of an inert tracer in the LB velocity field. We demonstrate that the pore-scale velocity profile for electroosmotic flow (EOF) is nonuniform even under most ideal conditions, including a negligible thickness of the electrical double layer compared to the mean pore size, a uniform distribution of the electrokinetic potential at the solid-liquid interface, and the absence of applied pressure gradients. This EOF dynamics is caused by a nonuniform distribution of the local electrical field strength in the sphere packing and engenders significant hydrodynamic dispersion compared to pluglike EOF through a single straight channel. Both transient and asymptotic dispersion behaviors are analyzed for EOF in the context of packing microstructure and are compared to pressure-driven flow in dependence of the average velocity through the bed. A better hydrodynamic performance of EOF originates in a still much smaller amplitude of velocity fluctuations on a mesoscopic scale (covering several particle diameters), as well as on the microscopic scale of an individual pore.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Analytical Chemistry