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Title: Ammonia Gas Transport and Reactions in Unsaturated Sediments: Implications for Use as an Amendment to Immobilize Inorganic Contaminants

Use of gas-phase amendments for in situ remediation of inorganic contaminants in unsaturated sediments of the vadose zone may be advantageous, but there has been limited development and testing of gas remediation technologies. Treatment with ammonia gas has been studied and has a potential for use in treating inorganic contaminants such as uranium because it induces a high pore-water pH causing mineral dissolution and subsequent formation of stable precipitates that decrease the mobility of some contaminants. For field application, knowledge of ammonia transport and the geochemical reactions induced by ammonia is needed. Laboratory studies were conducted to support calculations needed for field treatment design, to quantify advective and diffusive ammonia transport in unsaturated sediments, to evaluate reactions among gas, sediment, and water, and to study reaction-induced pore-water chemistry changes as a function of ammonia delivery conditions. Ammonia gas quickly partitions into sediment pore water and increases pH up to 13.2. Injected ammonia gas front movement can be reasonably predicted by gas flow rate and equilibrium partitioning. The ammonia gas diffusion rate is a function of the water content in the sediment. Measured diffusion front movement was 0.05, 0.03, and 0.02 cm/hr. in sediments with 2.0%, 8.7%, and 13.0% water content,more » respectively. Sodium, aluminum, and silica pore-water concentrations increase on exposure to ammonia and then decline as aluminosilicates precipitate with declining pH. When uranium is present in the sediment and pore water, up to 85% of the water-leachable uranium was immobilized by ammonia treatment.« less
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Journal of Hazardous Materials, 289:118-129
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States