An experimental investigation of nonaqueous phase liquid dissolution in saturated subsurface systems: Transient mass transfer rates


  • Susan E. Powers,

  • Linda M. Abriola,

  • Walter J. Weber Jr.


This work focuses on the experimental measurement and mathematical modeling of processes affecting the dissolution of nonaqueous phase liquids (NAPLs) entrapped in sandy porous media. Results of a series of laboratory-scale one-dimensional column dissolution experiments indicate that the length of time required to dissolve NAPLs and substantially reduce aqueous phase effluent concentrations is many times greater than predicted by equilibrium calculations. Experimental measurements clearly show an influence of both grain size and grain size distribution on the evolution of effluent concentrations. The longer cleaning times associated with coarse or graded media are attributed to the larger and more amorphous NAPL blobs associated with these media. A general correlation for transient dissolution rates is proposed which incorporates porous medium properties, Reynolds number, and volumetric fraction of NAPL. The model is calibrated with results from styrene dissolution experiments and is shown to adequately predict trichloroethylene dissolution rates in the same sandy media over the period of time required to dissolve the NAPL.