The Environmental Hydrogeology Group performs fundamental and applied research on the transport of fluids, colloids, and reactive chemical components in the shallow and deep subsurface. We apply a combination of theoretical, statistical, computational, and experimental methods to upscale processes from micro (pore) scale to column, and up to the field scale. Our work is related to environment and subsurface remediation, geo‑resources, and CO2 storage. The generated knowledge on upscaling in porous materials is highly cross-disciplinary fostering collaborations with many scientific groups from (Earth) Science, applied research, as well as industrial partners.
With the focus on environmental hydrogeology, we primarily aim at the fundamental understating of multi-phase flow and transport of colloids and reactive solutes in porous media. This includes the effects of porous media structures on flow and transport in close connection to geochemical processes.
In the context of flow and transport in the subsurface, our research themes include:
- Colloid transport in the soil unsaturated zone and subsurface
- Contaminant remediation and bio-degradation
- Upscaling of hydrogeological parameters given porous media structures
- Prediction of contaminant transport in heterogeneous aquifers
- Subsurface seasonal energy storage, high temperature storage and (deep)geothermal energy production
- CO2 sequestration and storage in the hydrocarbon reservoirs
These topics are studied by combining lab-based research, (numerical and mathematical) modelling and field-based research.
Our Multiscale Porous Media Lab provides advanced facilities for 2D to 3D imaging and performing micro scale experiments where flow and transport can be directly observed at the micro scale. These observations are combined with several computational models developed in our group to upscale and develop process-based modeling formulations for flow and transport in porous media. This knowledge can be used for stochastic investigation taking into account the uncertainty of the random nature of porous media. At the field scale, we conduct experiments e.g. to optimise groundwater injection techniques and minimise the effects of mechanical clogging of water supply wells.
Current research projects
- Colloid and particle transport and filtration in porous media under single-phase and multi-phase flow conditions
- Reactive transport of CO2 during subsurface storage
- High volume water injection in soil
- Contaminant remigration and monitoring in Griftpark Utrecht
- Wettability effects on two-phase flow
- Clogging in porous media
- Optimizing inkjet printing on paper
Education and research are strongly linked in our group. The knowledge on classical hydrogeology in general and more specifically on fluid flow in porous media, mathematical and numerical techniques are integral parts of our training to bachelors, masters students and our PhD candidates. Our ultimate goal is to educate students with a truly independent academic attitude. Approximately 70 % of our MSc students find jobs in engineering consultancy, water supply companies and water boards (e.g. Witteveen + Bos, TAUW, Vitens, Oasen, Crux, IF-Technology, Utrecht Municipality).
Our group believes in strong interdisciplinary research. The fundamental understanding of flow and transport in geological porous materials provides a mechanism to approach diverse applications in a variety of disciplines including industrial porous media such as printing paper, cleaning filters, printing personalized medicine, diapers, and fuel cells, as well as biological tissues and membranes such as bone, cartilage, and brain tissues. The group has direct collaborations with several researchers located in Physics, Biology, Chemistry and Catalysis, and University Medical Center Utrecht.
The staff of the Hydrogeology group actively participates in a Bachelor, three Master's programmes and coordinate several courses.
- Hydrogeological transport phenomena
- Principles of groundwater flow
- Environmental hydrogeology
- We contribute to the Master's programme Unsaturated zone hydrology