The effect of nonlinear sorption on transformation of contaminants during transport in porous media

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The transport of contaminants through porous media is influenced by several processes, two of the most important being sorption and transformation. Several mathematical models have been developed to investigate the effects of sorption and transformation on contaminant transport. Almost all of these models are based on the assumption of linear sorption. However, it is well known that sorption of reactive contaminants is often nonlinear. A mathematical model that describes the transport of solute undergoing nonlinear, rate-limited sorption and first-order transformation is used to investigate the effect of coupled transformation and non-linear sorption on contaminant transport. Results of the analyses show that a model based on linear sorption cannot provide an accurate simulation of the transformation and transport of nonlinearly sorbing solutes when n is less than ∼0.9. In addition, the relative impact of non-linear sorption on solute transport is mediated by the magnitude of transformation. The nondimensional time required for a specified fraction of solute mass to be transformed during transport is influenced by nonlinear sorption. These examples illustrate the intriguing effects that coupled processes can have on contaminant transport and which may be important for many contaminants of interest.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-291
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Feb 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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