Organic liquids inadvertently spilled and then distributed in the unsaturated zone can pose a long-term threat to ground water. Many of these substances have significant volatility, and thereby establish a premise for contaminant removal from the unsaturated zone by inducing advective air-phase transport with wells screened in the unsaturated zone. In order to focus attention on the rates of mass transfer from liquid to vapour phases, sand columns were partially saturated with gasoline and vented under steady air-flow conditions. The ability of an equilibrium-based transport model to predict the hydrocarbon vapor flux from the columns implies an efficient rate of local phase transfer for reasonably high air-phase velocities. Thus the success of venting remediations will depend primarily on the ability to induce an air-flow field in a heterogeneous unsaturated zone that will intersect the distributed contaminant. To analyze this aspect of the technique, a mathematical model was developed to predict radially symmetric air flow induced by venting from a single well. This model allows for in-situ determinations of air-phase permeability, which is the fundamental design parameter, and for the analysis of the limitations of a single well design. A successful application of the technique at a site once contaminated by gasoline supports the optimism derived from the experimental and modeliing phases of this study, and illustrates the well construction and field methods used to document the volatile contaminant recovery. ?? 1989.
Additional publication details
Removing volatile contaminants from the unsaturated zone by inducing advective air-phase transport