Infoscience

Journal article

Modelling of physical and reactive processes during biodegradation of a hydrocarbon plume under transient flow conditions

Numerical experiments of non-reactive and reactive transport were carried out to quantify the influence of a seasonally varying, transient flow field on transport and natural attenuation at a hydrocarbon-contaminated field site. Different numerical schemes for solving advective transport were compared to assess their capability to model low transversal dispersivities in transient flow fields. For the field site, it is shown that vertical plume spreading is largely inhibited, particularly if sorption is taken into account. For the reactive simulations, a biodegradation reaction module for the geochemical transport model PHT3D was developed. Results of the reactive transport simulations show that under the site- specific conditions the temporal variations in groundwater flow do, to a modest extent, affect average biodegradation rates and average total (dissolved) contaminant mass in the aquifer. The model simulations demonstrate that the seasonal variability in groundwater flow only results in significantly enhanced biodegradation rates when a differential sorption of electron donor (toluene) and electron acceptor (sulfate) is assumed.

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