Conférences plénières

Unravelling pore-scale processes in geomaterial
Veerle CNUDDE, Dept. of Geology, Ghent University, Belgium. Holder of the chair “Porous media imaging techniques”, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.



Physical, chemical and biological weathering has a constant effect on the earth’s landscape. This also impacts our building infrastructure, as stone and masonry are damaged by a combination of different processes, such as chemical attack, biological colonization, water infiltration and changes in temperature. Fluid flow, reactive transport, nucleation, dissolution, precipitation and mass transport are crucial processes occurring inside the pore system of geomaterials. To fully understand the macroscopical behavior of geomaterials in this context, their pore scale properties and processes have to be understood. The stone’s mineralogy and pore structure strongly affect key internal pore scale processes. These processes have been studied indirectly by micro- and macroscopic observations and laboratory experiments. Although this provides valuable information, the key drivers of these processes are to be studied at the pore scale. To explore these dynamic pore-scale processes, several non-destructive 3D and 4D methods are currently available. These tools provide additional important insights. Unravelling pore-scale processes in combination with pore scale modelling is an essential step towards understanding and predicting a geomaterial’s macroscopic behavior correctly.

The presentation discusses the current possibilities and challenges in non-destructive pore-scale imaging of geomaterials and how this data can be used as input for fluid flow models and their validation. Additional new developments at the synchrotron and on lab-based X-ray systems related to material characterization as well as to the understanding of pore-scale processes are discussed. Examples will be given of different experiments related to the characterization and the imaging of dynamic pore scale processes in (geo)materials.


Short biography

Prof. Veerle Cnudde received a PhD in Geology in 2005 from Ghent University (Belgium) where she has been a research professor since 2010. She is team leader of PProGRess (, the Pore-scale Processes in Geomaterials Research group (Dept. of Geology, UGent) and is one of the coordinators of the Ghent University Expertise Centre for X-Ray Tomography (UGCT). She was one of the co-founders of the UGCT spin-off company Inside Matters, which later merged with the spin-off company XRE, now part of TESCAN.

She specializes in non-destructive imaging of geomaterials and has a strong expertise in real-time imaging of processes in the pore space. Research projects which she has initiated are strongly linked to weathering and fluid flow processes of porous sedimentary rocks, as well as conservation of building stones.

Prof. Veerle Cnudde has published more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles. She is currently the Chair of the Proposal Review Committee (PRC) of the TOMCAT beamline at Swiss Light Source (SLS). She is one of the co-founders of InterPore BENELUX and an elected Council Member of InterPore. In 2019, she became a part-time Full Professor at the Environmental Hydrogeology group at Utrecht University in the field of “Porous media imaging techniques”. Prof. Veerle Cnudde has been selected by the InterPore award commitee Kimberly-Clark lecturer 2020.


Numerical models for evaluating the competitive use of the subsurface:
the influence of energy storage and production in groundwater

Rainer HELMIG, Institute for Modelling Hydraulic and Environmental Systems, Stuttgart University, Germany.



The subsurface is being increasingly utilised both as a resource and as an energy and waste repository. Historically, there have been few issues of concern related to competition between resources, with groundwater contamination being a notable exception. However, with increasing exploitation, resource conflicts are becoming increasingly common and complex. Current issues in this regard include, for example, the long-range impact of mechanical, chemical and thermal energy storage on groundwater resources, and the complex effects surrounding hydraulic fracturing in both geothermal and shale gas production. To analyse and predict the mutual influence of subsurface projects and their impact on groundwater reservoirs, advanced numerical models are necessary. In general, these subsurface systems include processes of varying complexity occurring in different parts of the domain of interest. These processes mostly take place on different spatial and temporal scales. It is extremely challenging to model such systems in an adequate way, accounting for the spatially varying and scale-dependent character of these processes. We will describe the fundamental properties and functions of a compositional multi-phase system in a porous medium. The basic multi-scale and multi-physics concepts are introduced and conservation laws formulated and explain the numerical solution procedures for both decoupled and coupled model formulations. Two applications of multi-physics and multi-scale algorithms will be presented and discussed.


Short biography

Rainer H. Helmig is head of the Department of Hydromechanics and Modelling of Hydrosystems in the Faculty of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Stuttgart, Germany. He gained his doctoral degree from the University of Hannover in 1993 and an advanced research degree (Habilitation) from the University of Stuttgart in 1997. In 1995, he was awarded the renowned "Dresdner Grundwasserforschungspreis" for his doctoral thesis on "Theory and numerics of multiphase flow through fractured porous media". His habilitation thesis was published by Springer in the much-cited textbook "Multiphase flow and transport processes in the subsurface: A contribution to the modeling of hydrosystems". From 1997 to 2000, Rainer Helmig held a professorship in "Computer Applications in Civil Engineering" at the Technical University of Braunschweig. Rainer Helmig's research covers fundamental research and applied science in the field of porous-media flow. A major focus is on developing methods for coupling hydrosystem compartments and complex flow and transport processes.


Design of silica and zeolites monoliths for process intensification in heterogeneous (bio)catalysis and in wastewater treatment
Anne GALARNEAU, Institut Charles Gerhardt Montpellier (ICGM) UMR 5253 CNRS-UM-ENSCM, University of Montpellier, France



Silica monoliths with hierarchical porosity (macro-/mesoporous), prepared by combining phase separation (spinodal decomposition) and sol-gel process, have demonstrated remarkable potential as supports for catalysts and adsorbents with improved efficiency and productivity of a number of applications in heterogeneous (bio)catalysis, adsorption, separation, water treatments. Monoliths productivities reach 2-4 times the one of packed-bed and 3-10 times the one in batch. This is due to their perfect homogeneous interconnected macroporous network enabling an exceptional mass transfer and a fine control of contact time. In their thin skeleton, their large mesopore volume combined with large mesopore diameters and high surface area allow high diffusion of reactants and products and high reactivity. Silica monoliths have been functionalized by an important variety of moities and techniques, such as grafting with versatile species (acidic, basic), by alumina coating, immobilization of ionic liquids, of enzymes, in-situ synthesis of nanoparticles of Pd and MOF. Their skeleton has been transformed into MCM-41 and zeolites (SOD, LTA, FAU-X) by pseudomorphic transformation. Carbon monoliths have been obtained by replica of silica monoliths. These functional materials reveal great opportunities for process intensification. For examples, LTA and FAU-X monoliths have removed selectively Sr2+ and Cs+, respectively, in simulated radioactive water with perfect breakthrough curves.


Short biography

Dr Anne Galarneau obtained a PhD in Materials Sciences in the Institute of Materials in Nantes, France, in 1993 on the study of lamellar phosphatoantimonic acids for heterogeneous catalysis under the supervision of Y. Piffard and M. Tournoux in collaboration with Rhône-Poulenc. She carried out a post-doc at Michigan State University, USA, in 1993-1995, where she discovered the synthesis of Porous Clay Heterostructures using surfactant-templated mechanism in the group of T. Pinnavaia. She became a CNRS researcher in France in 1995 and joined the Institute Charles Gerhardt in Montpellier, where she developed new synthesis of mesoporous silica prepared by surfactants templating (MCM-41, MCM-48, HMS, SBA-15, KIT-6) with the use of natural surfactants (lecithin) highly suitable for enzymes encapsulation. In particular she discovered the concept of pseudomorphic transformation – inspired by the mineral world – to independently control the textural properties and the morphology (particles, monoliths) of mesoporous silica and zeolites (SOD, LTA, FAU-X). Another key achievement was the characterization of materials porosity to elucidate the complex texture of SBA-15 and mesoporous FAU-Y. Her most recent works concern the elaboration of monoliths with hierarchical porosity, directly usable as reactors, which reveal remarkable performance in (bio)(photo)catalysis and wastewater treatments. She authored 157 publications and 6 patents (h-index 44).


Drainage in porous media under influence of a gravitational field
Knut Jørgen Måløy, Department of Physics, University of Oslo, Norway.



Experiments and simulations on pattern formation of slow drainage in 2D porous models will be presented under  the influence of a gravitational field.  The effect of gravity is systematically varied by tilting the system relative to the horizontal.  We have investigated the characteristic structures, crossover lengths and their the dependence on the strength of the gravitational field. Exploiting the fractal nature of the displacement structure we  obtain a relationship between the final saturation and the gravity.  We  further  studied the effects of connectivity enhancement due to film flow phenomena and the relative influence of gravity for such effects.  Our setup allows us to directly visualize the dynamics of the flow and, in particular, to pinpoint which pore invasion events are due to film flow phenomena. We have observed the formation of an active zone behind the liquid-air interface, inside which film flow drainage events are more likely to occur.


Short biography

Knut Jørgen Måløy is a professor of Physics and is leading the  PoreLab group (a Norwegian CoE) at University of Oslo.  He got his PhD in physics  at University of  Oslo in 1989 and  was a  postdoc  at University of Pittsburgh from 1991-1992.  In 1993 he  became  a full professor at University of Oslo. Knut Jørgen Måløy has a broad background in experimental physics within Porous media, granular materials,  fractures, light scattering and hydrodynamics. His research has  resulted in more than 150 publications, he has an h index of  36,  and his work is cited more than 4000 times. He has further supervised more than 15  PhD  students.  In 2017 he got a Norwegian Centre of Excellence funding together with 4 other researchers,  a centre shared between University of  Oslo and NTNU in Trondheim.



Wetting mechanisms of fibrous materials: from yarn to textile scales
Jan Carmeliet, Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, ETH Zürich, Switzerland.






Short biography

Since June 2008, Jan Carmeliet is full professor at the Chair of Building Physics at the department of Mechanical Engineering at ETH Zürich Switzerland. Jan Carmeliet, graduated from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (K.U.Leuven) and has been Professor at K.U.Leuven since 1998 and part-time Professor at T.U.Eindhoven. He was in 2007 on sabbatical leave at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and at Los Alamos Governmental Laboratories. His research resulted in more than 280 scientific journal papers.
His research interests concern urban climate and urban heat island mitigation, multiscale behaviour of porous materials and their fluid interactions, and decentralized multi-energy systems at building and urban scale. He is research councillor of the National Science Foundation Switzerland and expert of the Swiss Innovation Agency (InnoSuisse). He was director of the graduate program ‘master integrated building systems’ at ETHZ. He was member of the research commission of ETH Zürich, the scientific commission of the CCEM (Centre of Competence Energy and Mobility) and the Board of Energy Science Centre ETH Zürich. He plaid a very active role in acquiring and organizing the SCCER (Swiss competence centre energy research) FEEB&D (Future energy efficient buildings and districts).


Representing mixing for reactive transport in porous media
Jesus Carrera Ramirez, Institute of Environmental Assessment and Water Research, Spanish National Research Council, Spain.








Short biography

Jesus Carrera has been Research Professor at CSIC since 2006. Prior to that, he was Professor at the Technical University of Catalonia, where he had been head of the School of Civil Engineering (1992-1994) and Vice-President for Research (1994-1998). His research focuses on Groundwater Hydrology, with emphasis on quantitative modeling and integrative solutions to water related problems. He participates in many advisory committees, including the National Water Council or the plenary of National Research Evaluation Commission. In the process, he directed 30 doctoral theses, and supervised 20 postdoctoral scientists; he published some 200 journal papers (some 16 kcites, IH of 62, according to GS). He has received numerous awards (e.g., Spanish Academy of Sciences Medal, EGU’s Darcy Medal, PSIPW Prize for Water. He is member of Academia Europa and the US National Academy of Engineering.

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