July 29, 2008
Journal Article

Enhanced Remedial Amendment Delivery through Fluid Viscosity Modifications: Experiments and numerical simulations


Abstract Heterogeneity is often encountered in subsurface contamination characterization and remediation. Low-permeability zones are typically bypassed when remedial fluids are injected into subsurface heterogeneous aquifer systems. Therefore, contaminants in the bypassed areas may not be contacted by the amendments in the remedial fluid, which may significantly prolong the remediation operations. Laboratory experiments and numerical studies have been conducted to develop the Mobility-Controlled Flood (MCF) technology for subsurface remediation and to demonstrate the capability of this technology in enhancing the remedial amendments delivery to the lower permeability zones in heterogeneous systems. Xanthan gum, a bio-polymer, was used to modify the viscosity of the amendment-containing remedial solutions. Sodium mono-phosphate and surfactant were the remedial amendment used in this work. The enhanced delivery of the amendments was demonstrated in two-dimensional (2-D) flow cell experiments, packed with heterogeneous systems. The impact of polymer concentration, fluid injection rate, and permeability contract in the heterogeneous systems has been studied. The Subsurface Transport over Multiple Phases (STOMP) simulator was modified to include polymer-induced shear thinning effects. Shear rates of polymer solutions were computed from pore-water velocities using a relationship proposed in the literature. Viscosity data were subsequently obtained from empirical viscosity-shear rate relationships derived from laboratory data. The experimental and simulation results clearly show that the MCF technology is capable of enhancing the delivery of remedial amendments to subsurface lower permeability zones. The enhanced delivery significantly improved the NAPL removal from these zones and the sweeping efficiency on a heterogeneous system was remarkably increased when a polymer fluid was applied. MCF technology is also able to stabilize the fluid displacing front when there is a density difference between the fluids. The modified STOMP simulator was able to predict the experimental observed fluid displacing behavior. The simulator may be used to predict the subsurface remediation performance when a shear thinning fluid is used to remediate a heterogeneous system.

Revised: February 10, 2009 | Published: July 29, 2008


Zhong L., M. Oostrom, T.W. Wietsma, and M.A. Covert. 2008. Enhanced Remedial Amendment Delivery through Fluid Viscosity Modifications: Experiments and numerical simulations. Journal of Contaminant Hydrology 101, no. 1-4:29-41. PNNL-SA-59438. doi:10.1016/j.jconhyd.2008.07.007