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Title: Effects of Porous Medium Heterogeneity on Vadose Zone Desiccation: Intermediate-scale Laboratory Experiments and Simulations

Soil desiccation (drying), involving water evaporation induced by dry gas injection, is a potentially robust vadose zone remediation process to limit contaminant transport through the vadose zone. A series of four intermediate-scale flow cell experiments was conducted in homogeneous and simple layered heterogeneous porous medium systems to investigate the effects of heterogeneity on desiccation of unsaturated porous media. The permeability ratios of porous medium layers ranged from about five to almost two orders of magnitude. The insulated flow cell was equipped with twenty humidity and temperature sensors and a dual-energy gamma system was used to determine water saturations at various times. The multiphase code STOMP was used to simulate the desiccation process. Results show that injected dry gas flowed predominantly in the higher permeability layer and delayed water removal from the lower permeability material. For the configurations tested, water vapor diffusion from the lower to the higher permeability zone was considerable over the duration of the experiments, resulting in much larger relative humidity values of the outgoing air than based on permeability ratios alone. Acceptable numerical matches with the experimental data were obtained when an extension of the saturation-capillary pressure relation below the residual water saturation was used. The agreementsmore » between numerical and experimental results suggest that the correct physics are implemented in the simulator and that the thermal and hydraulic properties of the porous media, flow cell wall and insulation materials were properly represented.« less
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Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
24992; 830403000
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Vadose Zone Journal, 11(4)
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
desiccation; soil drying; contaminant transport; Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory