Technical Report NTB 94-19

Modular Coupling of Transport and Chemistry: Theory and Model Applications

For the description of complex processes in the near-field of a radioactive waste repository, the coupling of transport and chemistry is necessary. A reason for the relatively minor use of coupled codes in this area is the high amount of computer time and storage capacity necessary for calculations by conventional codes, and lack of available data. The simple application of the sequentially coupled code MCOTAC, which couples one-dimensional advective, dispersive and diffusive transport with chemical equilibrium complexation and precipitation/dissolution reactions in a porous medium, shows some promising features with respect to applicability to relevant problems. Transport, described by a random walk of multi-species particles, and chemical equilibrium calculations are solved separately, coupled only by an exchange term to ensure mass conservation. The modular-structured code was applied to three problems: a) incongruent dissolution of hydrated silicate gels, b) dissolution of portlandite and c) calcite dissolution and hypothetical dolomite precipitation. This allows for a comparison with other codes and their applications. The incongruent dissolution of cement phases, important for degradation of cementitious materials in a repository, can be included in the model without the problems which occur with a directly coupled code. The handling of a sharp multiple-mineral front system showed a much faster calculation time compared to a directly coupled code application. Altogether, the results are in good agreement with other code calculations. Hence, the chosen modular concept of MCOTAC is more open to an easy extension of the code to include additional processes like sorption, kinetically controlled processes, transport in two or three spatial dimensions, and adaptation to new developments in computing (hardware and software), an important factor for applicability.