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Ground water

Numerical Analysis of Thermal Remediation in 3D Field-Scale Fractured Geologic Media.


PMID 25040727

Abstract

Thermal methods are promising for remediating fractured geologic media contaminated with volatile organic compounds, and the success of this process depends on the coupled heat transfer, multiphase flow, and thermodynamics. This study analyzed field-scale removal of trichloroethylene (TCE) and heat transfer behavior in boiling fractured geologic media using the multiple interacting continua method. This method can resolve local gradients in the matrix and is less computationally demanding than alternative methods like discrete fracture-matrix models. A 2D axisymmetric model was used to simulate a single element of symmetry in a repeated pattern of extraction wells inside a large heated zone and evaluate effects of parameter sensitivity on contaminant recovery. The results showed that the removal of TCE increased with matrix permeability, and the removal rate was more sensitive to matrix permeability than any other parameter. Increasing fracture density promoted TCE removal, especially when the matrix permeability was low (e.g., <10(-17) m(2)). A 3D model was used to simulate an entire treatment zone and the surrounding groundwater in fractured material, with the interaction between them being considered. Boiling was initiated in the center of the upper part of the heated region and expanded toward the boundaries. This boiling process resulted in a large increase in the TCE removal rate and spread of TCE to the vadose zone and the peripheries of the heated zone. The incorporation of extraction wells helped control the contaminant from migrating to far regions. After 22 d, more than 99.3% of TCE mass was recovered in the simulation.

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