Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

 

Experimental design of physical aquifer models for evaluation of groundwater remediation strategies Public Deposited

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  • Groundwater resources have become seriously threatened due to improper use by industrial, municipal, and even public sectors. Widespread contamination of aquifer systems has jeopardized human health and the environment and methods for restoring these systems are needed. Biological and chemical in situ remediation, where contaminants are degraded within the natural system, has become the foremost technique for cleaning up affected sites. However, before in situ remediation can be implemented, studies of the sites' physical, chemical, and biological characteristics must be done. Physical aquifer models (PAM's) were constructed for use in evaluating groundwater remediation strategies in porous media. The PAM's offer a unique approach for work of this kind, the most important of which are opportunity for conducting large-scale transport experiments under controlled conditions, and maintaining geometric, dynamic, and reactive similitude. The PAM's consist of aluminum reactors, 4.00 m (length) x 2.00 m (width) x 0.20 m (height), supported by a steel framework. Reservoirs at each end of the reactor permit adjustment of hydraulic gradient across its length. An array of 40 fully-penetrating wells allows versatility in sampling, injection, or extraction of solutes. Experiments can be performed under confined or unconfined, steady-state or transient conditions where temperature, pressure, and hydraulic gradient can be controlled. Plumbing design, well design, sampling protocol, and media-packing procedure were developed and tested in dye and bromide tracer experiments. The results of dye experiments in a water-filled PAM demonstrated the effectiveness of the inlet and outlet port design and construction of the wells. This was evident through control of a symmetrical plume that developed within a uniform flow field. Protocols for sampling, injection, and extraction using the well array were also effective based on observed dye plume development and bromide concentration contour plots. A new approach for packing sand was used to create a statistically equivalent homogeneous and isotropic porous media. Results of bromide tracer experiments indicate that this condition of homogeneity and isotropy was achieved. The PAM's worked well for creating the desired experimental conditions needed for studying transport of solutes (non-reactive in this case) in porous media. Additional experimental work will be done to develop and expand more of their capabilities (e.g. transient flow, confined conditions, heterogeneic media) for which they were designed. Remediation strategies will be investigated using the developed PAM's and it is hoped that results obtained from these studies will be successfully applied to field situations.
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