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Journal Article (Refereed)
January 2008

A Physical-Chemical Model for the Static Water Retention Characteristic of Unsaturated Porous Media

Wang, Y ( 2008, 'A Physical-Chemical Model for the Static Water Retention Characteristic of Unsaturated Porous Media', - Advances in Water Resources (doi: 10.1016/j.advwatres.2008.01.005), 31, pp.723-735.


Water retention characteristic or water retention curve (WRC) is an important constitutive feature of porous media, and also meanwhile is an indispensable requirement in hydraulic transport modelling. Previous experiments have indicated that the specific surface area of porous media has effects on the WRC. It has also been observed that a linear relationship generally exists between the air–water interface area and the water saturation within unsaturated porous media. However it seems that no detailed study on their internal linkage with the WRC has been reported yet. This paper, at first gives a review of the development of WRC modelling, then it tries to explain the water retention characteristic according to the physical and chemical behaviours of the phases involved in unsaturated porous media. Using the traditional capillary theory, the volume averaging theorem and the advances in physical chemistry of interfacial surfaces, this paper then derives out a formula which represents the water retention characteristic of porous media. This formula demonstrates the internal linkage of the WRC to the specific surface area of porosities. It also shows agreements with the experimental observations mathematically. Based on this formula, a fitting model is proposed for the static WRC of porous media. Finally, this model is tested to fit the WRC measurements of a wide range of porous materials. Comparison with other main models is presented.


Following this paper, Dr Wang was invited to write a review in the Journal of Modern Mathematics Frontier [] and to speak at the EPS Montreal International Conference on Advanced Materials and Processing by the president [] of EPS Global Medical Development, Inc. He was also invited to visit Prof. Daichao Sheng [], University of Newcastle, Australia as part of a collaboration on unsaturated soils (AUS$5000). Recently, he was invited by Prof. Yasheng Luo [], Northwest A&F University, China and by Prof. Suiliang Huang [] Nankai University, China to participate in two new research collaborations.


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Publication Details

Journal Name
- Advances in Water Resources (doi: 10.1016/j.advwatres.2008.01.005)