The hydraulic and geochemical performance of a 366 m long permeable reactive barrier (PRB) at the Denver Federal Center; Denver, Colorado, was evaluated. The funnel and gate system, which was installed in 1996 to intercept and remediate ground water contaminated with chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons (CAHs), contained four 12.2 m wide gates filled with zero-valent iron. Ground water mounding on the upgradient side of the PRB resulted in a tenfold increase in the hydraulic gradient and ground water velocity through the gates compared to areas of the aquifer unaffected by the PRB. Water balance calculations for April 1997 indicate that about 75% of the ground water moving toward the PRB from upgradient areas moved through the gates. The rest of the water either accumulated on the upgradient side of the PRB or bypassed the PRB. Chemical data from monitoring wells screened down-gradient, beneath, and at the ends of the PRB indicate that contaminants had not bypassed the PRB, except in a few isolated areas. Greater than 99% of the CAH mass entering the gates was retained by the iron. Fifty-one percent of the CAH carbon entering one gate was accounted for in dissolved C1 and C2 hydrocarbons, primarily ethane and ethene, which indicates that CAHs may adsorb to the iron prior to being dehalogenated. Treated water exiting the gates displaced contaminated ground water at a distance of at least 3 m downgradient from the PRB by the end of 1997. Measurements of dissolved inorganic ions in one gate indicate that calcite and siderite precipitation in the gate could reduce gate porosity by about 0.35% per year. Results from this study indicate that funnel and gate systems containing zero-valent iron can effectively treat ground water contaminated with CAHs. However, the hydrologic impacts of the PRB on the flow system need to be fully understood to prevent contaminants from bypassing the PRB.
Additional publication details
Hydraulic and geochemical performance of a permeable reactive barrier containing zero-valent iron, Denver Federal Center