Biosurfactant-enhanced solubilization of NAPL mixtures

John E. McCray, Guiyun Bai, Raina M. Maier, Mark L. Brusseau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

77 Scopus citations


Remediation of nonaqueous phase liquids (NAPLs) by conventional pump-and-treat methods (i.e., water flushing) is generally considered to be ineffective due to low water solubilities of NAPLs and to mass-transfer constraints. Chemical flushing techniques, such as surfactant flushing, can greatly improve NAPL remediation primarily by increasing the apparent solubility of NAPL contaminants. NAPLs at hazardous waste sites are often complex mixtures. However, the equilibrium and nonequilibrium mass-transfer characteristics between NAPL mixtures and aqueous surfactant solutions are not well understood. This research investigates the equilibrium solubilization behavior of two- and three-component NAPL mixtures (containing akylbenzenes) in biosurfactant solutions. NAPL solubilization is found to be ideal in water (i.e., obeys Raoult's Law), while solubilization in biosurfactant solutions was observed to be nonideal. Specifically, the relatively hydrophobic compounds in the mixture experienced solubility enhancements that were greater than those predicted by ideal enhanced solubilization theory, while the solubility enhancements for the relatively hydrophilic compounds were less than predicted. The degree of nonideality is shown to be a nonlinear function of the NAPL-phase mole fraction. Empirical relationships based on the NAPL-phase mole fraction and/or micelle-aqueous partition coefficients measured in single-component NAPL systems are developed to estimate values for the multicomponent partition coefficients. Empirical relationships that incorporate both the NAPL-phase mole fraction and single-component partition coefficients yield much improved estimates for the multicomponent partition coefficient.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)45-68
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 2001


  • Biosurfactant
  • Groundwater
  • Mixtures
  • NAPL
  • Remediation
  • Surfactant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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