Laboratory and Modelling Study Evaluating Thermal Remediation of Tetrachloroethene and Multi-Component NAPL Impacted Soil
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In Situ Thermal Treatment (ISTT) is a candidate remediation technology for dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs). However, the relationships between gas production, gas flow, and contaminant mass removal during ISTT are not fully understood. A laboratory study was conducted to assess the degree of mass removal, as well as the gas generation rate and the composition of the gas phase as a function of different heating times and initial DNAPL saturations. The temperature of the contaminated soil was measured continuously using a thermocouple to identify periods of heating, co-boiling and boiling. Samples were collected from the aqueous and DNAPL phase of the condensate, as well as from the source soil, at different heating times, and analyzed by gas chromatography/mass spectrometry. In addition to laboratory experiments, a mathematical model was developed to predict the co-boiling temperature and transient composition of the gas phase during heating of a uniform source. Predictions for single-component sources matched the experiments well, with a co-boiling plateau at 88°C ± 1°C for experiments with tetrachloroethene (PCE) and water. A comparison of predicted and observed boiling behaviour showed a discrepancy at the end of the co-boiling period, with earlier temperature increases occurring in the experiments. The results of this study suggest that temperature observations related to the co-boiling period during ISTT applications may not provide a clear indication of complete NAPL mass removal, and that multi-compartment modeling associated with various NAPL saturation zones is required to consider mass-transfer limitations within the heated zone. Predictions for multi-component DNAPL, containing 1,2-Dichloroethane (1,2-DCA), PCE and Chlorobenzene, showed no co-boiling plateau. CB is the least volatile component and dominates in the vapour phase at the end of the co-boiling process, and it can be used as an indicator of the end of the co-boiling stage. Two field NAPL mixtures were simulated using the screening-level analytical model to demonstrate its potential application on ISTT. The two mixtures with similar composition but different mass fractions result in distinct co-boiling temperature and mass transfer behaviour. The non-volatile component in the NAPL mixture results in larger amounts of water consumption and longer ISTT operation time.