Interactions Between Chlorinated Waste Solvents and Clay Minerals in Low Permeability Subsurface Layers
Thursday, 18 December 2014
Waste organic contaminants stored in low permeability subsurface layers serve as long-term sources for dissolved phase contaminant plumes. These layers may have a different mineralogical make up than the surrounding geologic media; specifically, they may be characterized by a high clay content. Although these layers are often considered inert, interactions may occur between the clay minerals and the waste liquids that may influence transport. Measurements of the basal spacing of Na-montmorillonite in contact with pure chlorinated organic liquids such as trichloroethylene (TCE) showed that it is similar to that with water; however, its basal spacing in contact with waste chlorinated liquids was reduced, leading to cracking. In fact, the basal spacing in contact with the waste chlorinated liquids was closer to that in contact with air than in contact with water. The observation that contact with pure organic liquids did not cause cracking, but contact with chlorinated wastes obtained from the field did, suggests that other components of the waste are critical to the basal spacing reduction process. Screening experiments indicated that the presence of a binary mixture of surfactants, a nonionic and an anionic surfactant, in the chlorinated solvent were necessary to cause the cracking at the same rate and magnitude as the chlorinated wastes obtained from the field. Fourier transform infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy measurements suggest that the mixture alters the adsorbed water OH-bending band, implying a displacement of adsorbed water. Coupling these results with sorption and x-ray diffraction (XRD) measurements, a hypothesis of component conformation in the clay interlayer space that leads to cracking can be constructed.