Modeling multi-component transport and enhanced anaerobic dechlorination processes in a single fracture-clay matrix system

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Clayey tills contaminated with chlorinated solvents are a threat to groundwater and are difficult to remediate. A numerical model is developed for assessing leaching processes and for simulating the remediation via enhanced anaerobic dechlorination. The model simulates the transport of a contaminant in a single fracture-clay matrix system coupled with a reactive model for anaerobic dechlorination. The model takes into account microbially driven anaerobic dechlorination, where sequential Monod kinetics with competitive inhibition is used to model the reaction rates, and degradation is localized to account for potential pore size limitations on microbial entry to the clay matrix. The model is used to assess the distribution of TCE and its daughter products in the clay matrix and the concentration of the different compounds at the outlet of the fracture. The time frame for complete cleanup and the contaminant flux out of the clay system are assessed for different distributions of microbial degradation. Results from a set of scenarios show that time to remove 90% of the initial mass is halved when dechlorination occurs in a 5 cm reaction zone in the clay at the fracture-matrix interface (from 419 to 195 years) and decreases by an order of magnitude when dechlorination occurs in the entire matrix (to 32 years). The fracture spacing and the microbial parameters are shown to be the critical parameter for estimation of time frames depending on the system in question. Generally, the system is more sensitive to the physical processes, mainly diffusion in the matrix, than to the biogeochemical processes, when dechlorination is assumed to take place in a limited reaction zone only. The inclusion of sequential dechlorination in clay fracture transport models is crucial, as the contaminant flux to the aquifer will increase as a result of degradation due to the higher mobility of the formed daughter products DCE and VC. The model is used to examine the relationship between flux reduction and mass removal for fractured clay systems. (C) 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number1-4
Pages (from-to)77-90
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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