The mathematical model, R-UNSAT, developed to simulate the transport of benzene and MTBE in representative sand and clay hydrogeologic systems was evaluated. The effects on groundwater were simulated for small, chronic-, and single-volume releases of gasoline trapped in unsaturated soil. Hydrocarbon biodegradation was simulated by using a dual Monod-type kinetics model that includes oxygen and the reactive constituents. MTBE was assumed to be non-reactive. For MTBE, infiltration had the greatest effect on transport to groundwater. Infiltration also affected mass losses of MTBE to the atmosphere, particularly, in fine-grained soils. Depth to groundwater and soil type primarily affected travel times of MTBE to groundwater, but could affect mass-loading rates to groundwater if infiltration is insignificant. For benzene, transport to groundwater was significant only if the depth to the water table was < 1 m or biodegradation was assumed to be negligible. Mass fluxed to groundwater were generally smaller for benzene than for MTBE by more than two orders of magnitude. Thus, water that recharges an aquifer beneath a spill can be enriched in MTBE relative to benzene when compared to the composition of water in equilibrium with gasoline.
Additional publication details
Simulation of methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE) transport to ground water from immobile sources of gasoline in the vadose zone
Larger Work Title:
API - National Ground Water Association Petroleum Hydrocarbons and Organic Chemicals in Ground Water: Prevention, Detection and Remediation Joint Conference Proceedings
2000 Petroleum Hydrocarbons abd Organic Chemicals in Ground Water: Prevention, Detection, and Remediation