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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 29 Apr 2019

Research article | 29 Apr 2019

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences (HESS).

A soil non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) flushing laboratory experiment based on time domain reflectometry (TDR) and modeling

Alessandro Comegna1, Antonio Coppola1, Giovanna Dragonetti2, and Angelo Sommella3 Alessandro Comegna et al.
  • 1School of Agricultural Forestry Food and Environmental Sciences (SAFE), University of Basilicata, Potenza, Italy
  • 2Mediterranean Agronomic Institute, Land and Water Division, IAMB, Bari, 70010, Italy
  • 3Department of Agriculture, University of Naples “Federico II”, Italy

Abstract. The term non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) refers to a group of organic compounds with scarce solubility in water. They are the products of various human activities and may be accidentally introduced into the soil system. Given their toxicity level and high mobility, NAPLs constitute a serious geo-environmental problem. Contaminant distribution in the soil and groundwater entails fundamental information for the remediation of polluted soil sites. The present research explored the possible employment of time domain reflectometry (TDR) to estimate pollutant removal in a silt-loam soil that was primarily contaminated with a light hydrocarbon and then flushed with diverse washing solutions. Known mixtures of soil and NAPL were prepared in the laboratory to achieve soil specimens with diverse pollution levels. The prepared soil samples were repacked into plastic cylinders and then placed in testing cells. Washing solutions were then injected upward into the contaminated sample, and both the quantity of remediated oil and the bulk dielectric permittivity of the soil sample were determined. The above data was also used to develop a dielectric model (the α mixing model) which permits the volumetric NAPL content (θNAPL) within the contaminated sample to be determined and quantified during the different decontamination stages. Our results demonstrate that during a decontamination process, the TDR device is NAPL-sensitive: the dielectric permittivity of the medium increases as the NAPL volume decreases. Moreover, decontamination progression can be monitored using a simple (one-parameter) mixing model.

Alessandro Comegna et al.
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Alessandro Comegna et al.
Alessandro Comegna et al.
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Short summary
We carried out a series of laboratory-controlled experiments in order to simulate different scenarios of practical interest aiming to analyze, from a dielectric point of view, the influence of different washing solutions on NAPL removal. Furthermore, on the basis of the results obtained, we validated a dielectric mixing model for predicting the volumetric amounts of NAPL (θNAPL) within the contaminated soil as the decontamination process progressed.
We carried out a series of laboratory-controlled experiments in order to simulate different...