An experimental study of complete dissolution of a nonaqueous phase liquid in saturated porous media


  • Paul T. Imhoff,

  • Peter R. Jaffé,

  • George F. Pinder


The attenuation of gamma radiation was utilized to measure changing residual trichloroethylene (TCE) saturation in an otherwise water-saturated porous medium as clean water was flushed through the medium. A front over which dissolution actively occurred was observed. Once developed, this front varied in length from ≈11 mm to ≈21 mm, lengthening as it moved through the porous medium. Gamma attenuation measurements and analyses of effluent water samples indicate that there was minimal if any transport of TCE as colloidal droplets. Even as trapped TCE ganglia decreased in size due to dissolution, there is no evidence that they became mobile and advected downgradient. An extraction of the porous medium at the completion of one experiment indicated that less than 0.002% of the original TCE mass remained, suggesting that minimal amounts of separate phase TCE remained trapped within the medium after flushing with 290 pore volumes. Mass transfer rate coefficients were computed and are shown to be a function of Darcy flux, TCE volumetric content, and distance into the region of residual TCE.