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Title: Assessment of Controlling Processes for Field-Scale Uranium Reactive Transport under Highly Transient Flow Conditions

This paper presents the results of a comprehensive model-based analysis of a uranium tracer test conducted at the U.S Department of Energy Hanford 300 Area (300A) IFRC site. A three-dimensional multi-component reactive transport model was employed to assess the key factors and processes that control the field-scale uranium reactive transport. Taking into consideration of relevant physical and chemical processes, the selected conceptual/numerical model replicates the spatial and temporal variations of the observed U(VI) concentrations reasonably well in spite of the highly complex field conditions. A sensitivity analysis was performed to interrogate the relative importance of various processes and factors for reactive transport of U(VI) at the field-scale. The results indicate that multi-rate U(VI) sorption/desorption, U(VI) surface complexation reactions, and initial U(VI) concentrations were the most important processes and factors controlling U(VI) migration. On the other hand, cation exchange reactions, the choice of the surface complexation model, and dual-domain mass transfer processes, which were previously identified to be important in laboratory experiments, played less important roles under the field-scale experimental condition at the 300A site. However, the model simulations also revealed that the groundwater chemistry was relatively stable during the uranium tracer experiment and therefore presumably not dynamic enough to appropriatelymore » assess the effects of ion exchange reaction and the choice of surface complexation models on U(VI) sorption and desorption. Furthermore, it also showed that the field experimental duration (16 days) was not sufficiently long to precisely assess the role of a majority of the sorption sites that were accessed by slow kinetic processes within the dual domain model. The sensitivity analysis revealed the crucial role of the intraborehole flow that occurred within the long-screened monitoring wells and thus significantly affected both field-scale measurements and simulated U(VI) concentrations as a combined effect of aquifer heterogeneity and highly dynamic flow conditions. Overall, this study, which provides one of the few detailed and highly data-constrained uranium transport simulations, highlights the difference in controlling processes between laboratory and field scale that prevent a simple direct upscaling of laboratory-scale models.« less
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4] ;  [5] ;  [3]
  1. China Univ. of Geosciences, Wuhan (China)
  2. Peking Univ., Beijing (China); Univ. of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL (United States)
  3. Pacific Northwest National Lab. (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States)
  4. Carlvon-Ossietzky Univ., Oldenburg (Germany)
  5. CSIRO Land and Water (Australia); Univ. of Western Australia, Perth, WA (Australia); Flinders Univ., Adelaide, SA (Australia)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Journal ID: ISSN ‎0043-1397; 46203; KP1702030
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Water Resources Research, 50(2):1006-1024; Journal Volume: 50; Journal Issue: 2
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (United States), Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
07 ISOTOPE AND RADIATION SOURCES; 21 SPECIFIC NUCLEAR REACTORS AND ASSOCIATED PLANTS uranium; reactive transport modeling; aquifer heterogeneity; field scale model; Hanford 300 Area IFRC site; Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory