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A method of estimating multicomponent nonaqueous-phase liquid mass in porous media using aqueous concentration ratios



A simple dissolution model based on Raoult's Law was used to derive a log-linear equation for the estimation of multicomponent nonaqueous-phase liquid (NAPL) mass in porous media. The analysis, referred to here as the ratio mass estimation (RME) method, requires aqueous concentration ratios for two components of the NAPL mixture as well as their pure phase liquid solubilities. Application of the equation using data from a previously reported column experiment, in which 1.22 g of a benzene/toluene NAPL were flushed with water, yielded an estimate of 1.2 g of NAPL. In addition, data from two in situ field column experiments of gasoline dissolution were examined. In those experiments, three ratio pairs, benzene/toluene, ethylbenzene/toluene, and ethylbenzene/benzene, were considered from each cell, and the initial NAPL masses were estimated to be between 39 and 42 kg NAPL, within 30% of the true NAPL masses of 54 kg in each cell. Finally, data from the flushing of a controlled release of chlorinated solvents (chloroform, trichloroethene, and tetrachloroethene) inside a sheet pile cell were examined, and the initial NAPL mass was estimated to within 15% of the true value. The RME analysis is based on several simplifying assumptions and should be used with caution. However, this work shows it to be potentially useful under conditions that might be encountered at sites. The analysis is simple and based on data that are often collected routinely.