Reservoir contamination by various contaminants including radioactive elements is an actual environmental problem for all developed countries. Analysis of mass transport in a complex environment shows that the conventional diffusion equation based on Fick's Law fails to model the anomalous character of the diffusive mass transport observed in the field and laboratory experiments. These complex processes can be modelled by non-local advection-diffusion equations with temporal and spatial fractional derivatives. In the present paper, fractional differential equations are used for modelling the transport of radioactive materials in a fracture surrounded by the porous matrix of fractal structure. A new form of fractional differential equation for modelling migration of the radioactive contaminant in the fracture is derived and justified. Solutions of particular boundary value problems for this equation were found by application of the Laplace transform. Through the use of fractional derivatives, the model accounts for contaminant exchange between fracture and surrounding porous matrix of fractal geometry. For the case of an arbitrary time-dependent source of radioactive contamination located at the inlet of the fracture, the exact solutions for solute concentration in the fracture and surrounding porous medium are obtained. Using the concept of a short memory, an approximate solution of the problem of radioactive contaminant transport along the fracture surrounded by the fractal type porous medium is also obtained and compared with the exact solution. This article is part of the theme issue 'Advanced materials modelling via fractional calculus: challenges and perspectives'.
Keywords: advection–diffusion equation; contaminant transport; exact solution; fractional differential equation; fractured-porous medium.
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