PoreLab is a Norwegian Center of Excellence created in 2017 and situated at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, and the University of Oslo (UiO).
We work to advance the understanding of flow in porous media. Starting from a sound basis in physics we aim for a better description of flows that range from geological to biological and technological.
Why do we need Porelab?
Could we do this research without it? The answer is no. The vision for the center is ambitious and high risk. It addresses fundamental scientific questions in a field which, historically, has been dedicated to specific applications, thereby bringing the field to a new level, creating possibilities to solve new applications. Without the opportunity that the center offers to meet and merge fields, this outcome could not have been expected. Besides the science that is produced, perhaps the most important ambition of Porelab is a new generation of researchers that will bring the field much beyond state-of-the art.
We will develop a generalized statistical mechanics for porous media flow at the pore level which will give us an effective media description on the larger continuum scales – a generalized non-equilibrium thermodynamics for porous media flow.
Porous media flow is all around us. It is at the heart of landslides, ground liquefaction after earthquakes, geological transport, groundwater management, fuel cells, oil recovery, blood transport, micro and nanofluidics and much more. Porous media flow has so many important applications that, historically, little time has been invested to advance the fundamental scientific understanding.
Porous media typically span many orders of magnitude in length scales: The pore scale may be in the micrometer range whereas the largest scale is in the kilometer range. At the macroscopic scale, the porous medium can be seen as a continuum and described by differential equations. On the pore scale however, these differential equations are irrelevant. We work to link the physics at the pore scale to the large-scale differential equations. Thus, we address the upscaling problem using methods adapted from non-equilibrium thermodynamics and statistical mechanics. This approach holds the potential of providing a large set of relations and differential equations that control the flow on large scales, thus placing the upscaling problem from a solid physical basis.
PoreLab has expertise in theoretical, computational and experimental physics, physical chemistry and petroleum engineering. It joins three fields of science: hydrodynamics of porous media, non-equilibrium thermodynamics and statistical mechanics.