Surfactant-Induced Reductions in Soil Hydraulic Conductivity

Authors

  • Barry Allred,

    1. Barry Allred (Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078) is a research engineer and Ph.D. candidate in the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department at Oklahoma State University. He has M.S. degrees in geology from both Northern Illinois University and Western Michigan University. His research interests include soil-surfactant interactions and contaminant transport in unsaturated porous media.
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  • Glenn O. Brown

    1. Glenn O. Brown (Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK 74078) earned his Ph.D. in civil engineering from Colorado State University in 1987. He is an associate professor in the Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering Department at Oklahoma State University where he conducts research in multiphase flow and contaminant transport.
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Abstract

Surfactant solutions are being proposed for in situ flushing of organic contaminants from soils and aquifers. The feasibility of surfactant additives in remediation may depend in large part on how these chemicals affect the hydraulic conductivity of the porous media. While there is evidence in the literature of conductivity loss during surfactant flushing (Miller et al. 1975; Nash et al. 1987), there has been little research on quantifying the process for unconsolidated sediments. Surfactant-affected hydraulic conductivity reductions were measured in two soils (Teller loam and Daugherty sand). Testing was done with eight surfactants at a variety of concentrations (10-5 to 10-l mole/kg), surfactant mixtures, and added solution electrolytes. The Teller was also tested with its organic matter removed. Maximum hydraulic conductivity decreases were 47 percent for the sand and more than two orders of magnitude for the loam. Surfactant concentrations, surfactant mixtures, soil organic content, and added solution electrolytes all affected the degree of conductivity reduction. Results indicate that surfactant-affected hydraulic conductivity losses should be considered prior to in situ remediation and may preclude surfactant use in some fine grain soils.

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