Cyprien Soulaine and his COCONUT project, new ERC star

The ERC informs us today that Cyprien Soulaine, researcher at the Earth Sciences Institute of Orléans, who was first on the waiting list for the Consolidator Grant (European Research Council) will be funded for the next 5 years for his project COCONUT (Colloidal control of multi-phase flow in geological porous media).

The COCONUT project aims at developing predictive capabilities to understand how colloids (nanometals, fine particles, bacteria, viruses, asphaltenes..) control immiscible two-phase flow in complex geological formations. Colloids (including nanoparticles) have an incredible potential to remobilize non-aqueous phases trapped by capillary forces in soils and the subsurface, and then to remediate contaminated groundwater or to enhance oil recovery. Their use in daily engineering, however, is still underexploited because the lack of knowledge regarding their transport mechanisms. The project posits that the precise control of colloids on the motion of two-phase flow can only be achieved by developing a deep knowledge of the coupled hydro-electro-chemical processes at the pore-scale. The COCONUT project uses a combined modelling-experimental strategy focusing on the pore-scale mechanisms and on the upscaling to the continuum-scale.