Nonideal transport of contaminants in heterogeneous porous media: 9 - Impact of contact time on desorption and elution tailing

M. L. Brusseau, A. E. Russo, G. Schnaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A series of miscible-displacement experiments was conducted to examine the impact of sorption contact time on desorption and elution of trichloroethene from a well-characterized soil. A large number of contact times were examined, spanning 1h to 4years (∼2×106h). Effluent trichloroethene concentrations were monitored over a range of greater than six orders of magnitude, allowing characterization of potential asymptotic tailing. The results of the column experiments showed that trichloroethene exhibited extensive elution tailing for all experiments. Each increase in contact time resulted in a successive increase in the extent of tailing. In total, the number of pore volumes of water flushing required to reach the analytical detection limit increased from approximately 1000 for the 1-h contact time to almost 9000 for the 4-year contact time. These results indicate that a contact time of less than 1h produced a sorbed phase that is relatively resistant to desorption, and that a progressive increase in resistance to desorption occurred with increased contact time. A mathematical model incorporating nonlinear, rate-limited sorption/desorption described by a continuous-distribution reaction function was used to successfully simulate the measured data. The nonlinear sorption, the apparent rapid development of desorption resistance, and the progressive increase in resistance with increasing contact time are consistent with behavior anticipated for sorbate interactions with hard-carbon components of the soil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-292
Number of pages6
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2012


  • Aging
  • Hard carbon
  • Rate limited
  • Sorption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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