A compositional multiphase model for groundwater contamination by petroleum products: 1. Theoretical considerations

Water Resources Research
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Abstract

A mathematical model is developed to describe the fate of hydrocarbon constituents of petroleum products introduced to soils as an immiscible liquid from sources such as leaking underground storage tanks and ruptured pipelines. The problem is one of multiphase transport (oil (immiscible), air, and water phases) of a reactive contaminant with constituents such as benzene, toluene, and xylene found in refined petroleum products like gasoline. In the unsaturated zone, transport of each constituent can occur as a solute in the water phase, vapor in the air phase, and as an unaltered constituent in the oil phase. Additionally, the model allows for adsorption. Molecular transformations, microbially mediated or abiotic, are incorporated as sink terms in the conservation of mass equations. An equilibrium approximation, applicable to any immiscible organic contaminant is applied to partition constituent mass between the air, oil, water, and adsorbed phases for points in the region where the oil phase exists. Outside the oil plume the equilibrium approximation takes on a simpler form to partition constituent mass between the air, water, and adsorbed phases only. Microbial degradation of petroleum products is first discussed in a general model, then the conservation of mass equation for oxygen is incorporated into the analysis which takes advantage of the key role played by oxygen in the metabolism of hydrocarbon utilizing microbes in soil environments. Approximations to two subproblems, oil plume establishment in the unsaturated zone, and solute and vapor transport subsequent to immiscible plume establishment are then developed from the general model.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A compositional multiphase model for groundwater contamination by petroleum products: 1. Theoretical considerations
Series title Water Resources Research
DOI 10.1029/WR023i001p00191
Volume 23
Issue 1
Year Published 1987
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Toxic Substances Hydrology Program
Description 10 p.
First page 191
Last page 200