4D Imaging of Salt Precipitation during Evaporation from Saline Porous Media Influenced by the Particle Size Distribution
Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Understanding the physics of water evaporation from saline porous media is important in many processes such as evaporation from porous media, vegetation, plant growth, biodiversity in soil, and durability of building materials. To investigate the effect of particle size distribution on the dynamics of salt precipitation in saline porous media during evaporation, we applied X-ray micro-tomography technique. Six samples of quartz sand with different grain size distributions were used in the present study enabling us to constrain the effects of particle and pore sizes on salt precipitation patterns and dynamics. The pore size distributions were computed using the pore-scale X-ray images. The packed beds were saturated with NaCl solution of 3 Molal and the X-ray imaging was continued for one day with temporal resolution of 30 min resulting in pore scale information about the evaporation and precipitation dynamics. Our results show more precipitation at the early stage of the evaporation in the case of sand with the larger particle size due to the presence of fewer evaporation sites at the surface. The presence of more preferential evaporation sites at the surface of finer sands significantly modified the patterns and thickness of the salt crust deposited on the surface such that a thinner salt crust was formed in the case of sand with smaller particle size covering larger area at the surface as opposed to the thicker patchy crusts in samples with larger particle sizes. Our results provide new insights regarding the physics of salt precipitation in porous media during evaporation.