PNG 550
Reactive Transport in the Subsurface

PNG 550 / CE 574: Reactive Transport in Porous Media


Instructor and Author:

Li Li, Professor in Environmental Engineering, Penn State University. twitter @LiReactiveWater;


This course targets graduate students from various disciplines with interests in water-rock-soil-microbe interactions and biogeochemical and hydrological processes in the natural environment. This includes, for example, environmental engineering, geosciences, agricultural engineering, civil engineering, chemical engineering, petroleum and natural gas engineering, and applied mathematics. The course teaches fundamental concepts that are important in understanding water chemistry and reactive transport processes, as well as their quantitative representations and applications. Covered topics include aqueous biogeochemical thermodynamics and kinetics, water flow and chemical transport, and reactive transport coupling. Depending on the students’ interests, the course will discuss general principles of biogeochemical and flow process coupling  in understanding and quantifying water quality, chemical weathering, and environmental (bio)remediation.

The course will be taught through a combination of reading materials that discuss general principles, lightboard videos of  reactive transport equations, zooms videos of class examples, and homework exercises of example files with solutions. The students will learn to set up models, as well as to visualize and interpret the modeling output. 

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the biogeochemical and solute transport processes;
  2. Understand the mathematical representation of processes and the physical meanings of parameters;
  3. Grasp general principles governing the coupling among reactions, flow, and transport processes;
  4. Appreciate the importance of different processes under different conditions;
  5. Develop computational skills to simulate coupled flow, transport, and reactions using a reactive transport modeling code (CrunchFlow);
  6. Develop the ability to communicate and collaborate in interdisciplinary teams. 

Learning Environment

This website provides the primary instructional materials for the course. The menu on the top of the page links you to course orientation, syllabus, lessons, Canvas system, and other supporting materials. Canvas - Penn State's course management system, is used to support the delivery of this course as well as it provides the primary communications, calendaring, discussion, and submission tools for the course.

Acknowledgement: Prof. Li is grateful for the diligent and meticulous work by Ms. Jane Sutterlin (John A. Dutton e-Education Institute) that bring these teaching materials online and accessible to everyone.