This study presents a set of laboratory-scale transport experiments and numerical simulations evaluating carboxymethyl cellulose (CMC) polymer stabilized nano-scale zero-valent iron (nZVI) transport. The experiments, performed in a glass-walled two-dimensional (2D) porous medium system, were conducted to identify the effects of water specific discharge and CMC concentration on nZVI transport and to produce data for model validation. The transport and movement of a tracer lissamine green B® (LGB) dye, CMC, and CMC-nZVI were evaluated through analysis of the breakthrough curves (BTCs) at the outlets, the time-lapsed images of the plume, and retained nZVI in the sandbox. The CMC mass recovery was >95% when injected alone and about 65% when the CMC-nZVI mixture was used. However, the mean residence time of CMC was significantly higher than that of LGB. Of significance for field implementation, viscous fingering was observed in water displacement of previously injected CMC and CMC-nZVI. The mass recovery of nZVI was lower (<50%) than CMC recovery due to attachment onto sand grain surfaces. Consecutive CMC-nZVI injections showed higher nZVI recovery in the second injection, a factor to be considered in field trials with successive CMC-nZVI injections.Transport of LGB, CMC, and nZVI were modeled using a flow and transport model considering LGB and CMC as solutes, and nZVI as a colloid, with variable solution viscosity due to changes in CMC concentrations. The simulation results matched the experimental observations and provided estimates of transport parameters, including attachment efficiency, that can be used to predict CMC stabilized nZVI transport in similar porous media, although the extent of viscous fingering may be underpredicted. The experimental and simulation results indicated that increasing specific discharge had a greater effect on decreasing CMC-nZVI attachment efficiency (corresponding to greater possible travel distances in the field) than increasing CMC concentration.
Journal of Contaminant Hydrology – Elsevier
Published: May 1, 2018
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