Theory and Applications of Macroscale Models in Porous Media

Ilenia Battiato, Peter T. Ferrero V, Daniel O’ Malley, Cass T. Miller, Pawan S. Takhar, Francisco J. Valdés-Parada, Brian D. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Systems dominated by heterogeneity over a multiplicity of scales, like porous media, still challenge our modeling efforts. The presence of disparate length- and time-scales that control dynamical processes in porous media hinders not only models predictive capabilities, but also their computational efficiency. Macrosopic models, i.e., averaged representations of pore-scale processes, are computationally efficient alternatives to microscale models in the study of transport phenomena in porous media at the system, field or device scale (i.e., at a scale much larger than a characteristic pore size). We present an overview of common upscaling methods used to formally derive macroscale equations from pore-scale (mass, momentum and energy) conservation laws. This review includes the volume averaging method, mixture theory, thermodynamically constrained averaging, homogenization, and renormalization group techniques. We apply these methods to a number of specific problems ranging from food processing to human bronchial system, and from diffusion to multiphase flow, to demonstrate the methods generality and flexibility in handling different applications. The primary intent of such an overview is not to provide a thorough review of all currently available upscaling techniques, nor a complete mathematical treatment of the ones presented, but rather a primer on some of the tools available for upscaling, the basic principles they are based upon, and their specific advantages and drawbacks, so to guide the reader in the choice of the most appropriate method for particular applications and of the most relevant technical literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-76
Number of pages72
JournalTransport in Porous Media
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Homogenization theory
  • Mixture theory
  • Porous media
  • Renormalization group theory
  • Thermodynamically constrained averaging theory
  • Upscaling
  • Volume averaging method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • General Chemical Engineering


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