Effects Of Evaporation Rate of Some Common Organic Contaminants on Hydraulic Conductivity of Aquifer Sand

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Qays Jasim Saud, Organization Not Listed, Washington, DC, United States and Syed E Hasan, Univ Missouri, Kansas City, MO, United States
As part of a larger study to investigate potential effects of hydrocarbons on the geotechnical properties of aquifer solids, a series of laboratory experiments were carried out to ascertain the influence of evaporation rate of some common and widespread organic contaminants on the hydraulic conductivity of aquifer sand. Gasoline and its constituent chemicals─benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene (BTEX), isooctane─ and trichloroethylene (TCE) were used to contaminate sand samples collected from the aquifer and vadose zone, at varying concentrations for extended periods of time. The goal was to study any change in the chemical makeup of the contaminants and its control on hydraulic conductivity of the sand. It was found that: (a) gasoline breaks down into constituent compounds when subjected to evaporation, e.g. during oil spills and leaks; and (b) lighter compounds volatilize faster and in the following order: TCE> benzene > isooctane > toluene > gasoline> ethylbenzene > xylene. In addition, these contaminants also caused a decrease in hydraulic conductivity of sand by up to 60% as compared to the uncontaminated sand. The inherent differences in the chemical structure of contaminating chemicals influenced hydraulic conductivity such that the observed decrease was greater for aliphatic than aromatic and chlorinated hydrocarbons. The presentation includes details of the experimental set up; evaporation rate, and geotechnical tests; X-ray diffraction and scanning electron microscope studies; and data analyses and interpretation. Rate of evaporation test indicates that residual LNAPLs will occupy a certain portion of the pores in the soil either as liquid or vapor phase in the vadose zone, and will create a coating on the adjacent solid mineral grains in the aquifer. Replacement of air by the LNAPLs along with grain coatings and the intramolecular forces would impede groundwater movement, thus affecting overall permeability of contaminated aquifers.

Keywords: aquifer sand, hydraulic conductivity, BTEX, gasoline, LNAPLs, isooctane