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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Numerical modeling of density-driven chemical oxidation of chlorinated solvents Henderson, Thomas Hatcher


A popular method for the treatment of aquifers contaminated with chlorinated solvents is chemical oxidation using potassium permanganate (KMnO₄). Numerical modeling was employed to investigate permanganate-based remediation under free convection conditions, considering contaminant treatment, and geochemical reactions including the oxidation of naturally occurring organic matter, mineral dissolution and precipitation, and ion exchange reactions. The MIN3P multicomponent reactive transport code was enhanced to simulate the remediation technology. The modified code (MIN3PD) provides a direct coupling between density-dependent fluid flow, solute transport, contaminant treatment, and geochemical reactions. The code was utilized to identify the processes most important to remediation efficiency and the geochemical response to a KMnO₄ injection. The investigation was achieved through a sensitivity analysis, the development of a three-dimensional model of a field trial of TCE oxidation, and automated inverse modeling. Investigation results elucidate the important role of density-induced flow and transport on the distribution of the oxidant solution. The soil organic matter content, aquifer hydraulic conductivity and porosity, and the DNAPL dissolution kinetics comprise primary system attributes controlling the geochemical evolution and remediation efficiency. Detailed monitoring data collected during the field trial were used to evaluate the ability of the MIN3PD model to adequately simulate permanganate-based groundwater remediation. The calibrated model reproduced the transient distribution of aqueous species, and supported a quantitative evaluation of remediation efficiency. Automated inverse modeling was employed to systematically evaluate the quality of the model calibration, and identify optimal values of model input parameters. The investigation supported a quantitative evaluation of the conceptual model of the remediation technology, and capabilities and limitations of the numerical model.

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