Persulfate Persistence and Treatability of Gasoline Compounds
Sra, Kanwartej Singh
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Petroleum hydrocarbons (PHCs) such as gasoline are ubiquitous organic compounds present at contaminated sites throughout the world. Accidental spills and leakage from underground storage tanks results in the formation of PHC source zones that release hundreds of organic compounds, including the high impact, acutely toxic and highly persistent aromatics (e.g., benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylenes, trimethylbenzenes and naphthalene) into groundwater. Contamination by these compounds continues to persist until the PHC source zone is treated in place or removed. In situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) employing persulfate was identified as a potentially viable technology for the treatment of PHC source zones. The effectiveness and efficiency and, therefore, the overall economic feasibility of a persulfate-based ISCO treatment system depend upon the reactivity of the target organic compounds and the interaction of persulfate with aquifer media. The objective of this research was to investigate the persistence of unactivated and activated persulfate in the presence of aquifer materials, and to examine persulfate oxidation of PHC compounds at both the bench- and pilot-scales. A series of bench-scale studies were performed to estimate persulfate degradation kinetic parameters in the presence of seven well-characterized, uncontaminated aquifer materials and to quantify the changes in specific properties of these materials. Batch experiments were conducted in an experimental system containing 100 g of solids and 100 mL of persulfate solution at 1 or 20 g/L. Column experiments were designed to mimic in situ conditions with respect to oxidant to solids mass ratio and were performed in a stop-flow mode using a 1 g/L persulfate solution. The degradation of persulfate followed a first-order rate law for all aquifer materials investigated. An order of magnitude decrease in reaction rate coefficients was observed for systems that used a persulfate concentration of 20 g/L as compared to those that used 1 g/L due to ionic strength effects. As expected, the column experiments yielded higher reaction rate coefficients than batch experiments for the same persulfate concentration due to the lower oxidant to solids mass ratio. Bench-scale data was used to develop a kinetic model to estimate the kinetic response of persulfate degradation during these tests. The push-pull tests involved the injection of persulfate (1 or 20 g/L) and a conservative tracer into a hydraulically isolated portion of the sandy aquifer at CFB Borden, Canada. The kinetic model developed from the bench-scale data was able to reproduce the observed persulfate temporal profiles from these push-pull tests. This implies that persulfate degradation kinetics is scalable from bench-scale to in situ scale, and bench tests can be employed to anticipate in situ degradation. The estimated reaction rate coefficients indicate that persulfate is a persistent oxidant for the range of aquifer materials explored with half lives ranging from 2 to 600 days, and therefore in situ longevity of persulfate will permit advective and diffusive transport in the subsurface. This is critical for successful delivery of oxidant to dispersed residuals in the subsurface. Activation of persulfate is generally recommended to enhance its oxidation potential and reactivity towards organic compounds. This approach may influence the stability of persulfate-activator system in the presence of aquifer materials. A series of batch tests were performed to investigate persistence of persulfate at two concentrations (1 or 20 g/L) using three contemporary activation strategies (citric acid chelated-ferrous, peroxide and high pH ) in the presence of 4 well-characterized, uncontaminated aquifer materials. Chelation by citric acid was ineffective in controlling the interaction between persulfate and Fe(II) and a rapid loss in persulfate concentration was observed. Higher Fe(II) concentration (600 mg/L) led to greater destabilization of persulfate than lower Fe(II) concentration (150 mg/L) and the persulfate loss was stoichiometrically equivalent to the Fe(II) concentration employed. Subsequent to this rapid loss of persulfate, first-order degradation rate coefficients (kobs) were estimated which were up to 4 times higher than the unactivated case due to the interaction with Fe(III) and CA. Total oxidation strength (TOS) was measured for peroxide activation experiments and was observed to decrease rapidly at early time due peroxide degradation. This was followed by slow degradation kinetics similar to that of unactivated persulfate implying that the initial TOS degradation was peroxide dominated and the long-term kinetics were dominated by persulfate degradation. The kobs used to capture TOS degradation for later time were shown to depend upon unactivated persulfate and peroxide degradation rate coefficients, and peroxide concentration. Either a slow peroxide degradation rate and/or higher peroxide concentration allow a longer time for peroxide and persulfate to interact which led to kobs ~1 to 100 times higher than kobs for unactivated persulfate. For alkaline activation, kobs were only 1 to 4 times higher than unactivated persulfate and therefore alkaline conditions demonstrated the least impact on persulfate degradation among the various activation strategies used. For all activation trials, lower stability of persulfate was observed at 1 g/L as compared to 20 g/L due to insufficient persulfate and/or ionic strength effects. A series of batch reactor trials were designed to observe the behavior of the nine high impact gasoline compounds and the bulk PHC fraction measures subjected to various persulfate activation strategies over a 28-day period. This bench-scale treatability used unactivated persulfate (1 or 20 g/L) and activated persulfate (20 g/L). Activation employed chelated-Fe(II), peroxide, high pH or two aquifer materials as activators. No significant oxidation of the monitored compounds was observed for unactivated persulfate at 1 g/L, but 20 g/L persulfate concentration resulted in their near-complete oxidation. Oxidation rates were enhanced by 2 to 18 times by activation with peroxide or chelated-Fe(II). For alkaline activation, pH 11 trials demonstrated ~2 times higher oxidation rates than the unactivated results. For pH 13 activation the oxidation rates of benzene, toluene and ethylbenzene were reduced by 50% while for the remaining monitored compounds they were enhanced by 5 to 100%. Natural activation by both aquifer materials produced oxidation rates similar to the unactivated results, implying that either activation by minerals associated with aquifer material was not significant or that any potential activation was offset by radical scavenging from aquifer material constituents. Acid-catalyzation at pH <3 may enhance oxidation rates in weakly buffered systems. Oxidation of the monitored compounds followed first-order reaction kinetics and rate coefficients were estimated for all the trials. Overall, activated and unactivated persulfate appear to be suitable for in situ treatment of gasoline. Persulfate under unactivated or naturally activated conditions demonstrated significant destruction of gasoline compounds and showed higher persulfate persistence when in contact with aquifer solids as compared to chelated-Fe(II) or peroxide-activated persulfate systems. This observation was used as the basis for selecting unactivated sodium persulfate for a pilot-scale treatment of gasoline-contaminated source zone at CFB Borden, Canada where a ~2000 L solution of persulfate (20 g/L) was injected into a PHC source zone. Concentration of organics and inorganics were frequently monitored over a 4 month period across a 90 point monitoring fence line installed down-gradient. Treatment performance was measured by estimating organic and inorganic mass loading across the monitoring fence. Increased mass loading for sodium was observed over time as the treatment volume moved across the fence-line indicating transport of the inorganic slug created upon oxidant injection. The mass loading also increased for sulfate which is a by-product generated either due to persulfate degradation during oxidation of organic compounds or during its interaction with aquifer materials. Oxidation of organic compounds was evident from the enhanced mass loading of dissolved carbon dioxide. More importantly, a significant (45 to 86%) decrease in mass loading of monitored compounds was observed due to oxidation by injected persulfate. The cumulative mass crossing the monitoring fence-line was 20 to 50% lower than that expected without persulfate treatment. As the inorganic slug was flushed through the source zone and beyond the monitoring fence, the mass loading rate of sodium, sulfate and carbon dioxide decreased and approached background condition. Mass loading of the monitored compounds increased to within 40 to 80% of the pre-treatment conditions, suggesting partial rebound. These investigations assessed the impact of activation on persulfate persistence and treatability of gasoline and served to establish guidelines for anticipating field-scale persulfate behavior under similar conditions. In summary, unactivated persulfate is a stable oxidant in the presence of aquifer materials and its persistence depends upon TOC and Fe(Am) content of the materials, ionic strength, and aquifer to solids mass ratio. Persulfate exhibits significant destruction of gasoline compounds and can be employed for the remediation of gasoline-contaminated sites. Peroxide and chelated-Fe(II) enhance oxidation rates of these compounds, but reduce stability of the persulfate-activator system. Persulfate activation using high pH conditions does not significantly impact persulfate persistence but reduces the overall destruction of gasoline compounds. Therefore, activation imposes a trade-off between enhanced oxidation rates and reduced persulfate persistence. Kinetic model is representative of persulfate degradation at bench- and pilot-scales and can be used for estimation of in situ degradation. The quantification of oxidation rates for gasoline compounds under activated and unactivated persulfate conditions will assist decision-making for identification of appropriate remediation options when targeting contamination by gasoline or by specific high impact gasoline compounds. While persulfate oxidation resulted in partial treatment of a small gasoline source zone, aggressive persulfate load will be required during injection for a complete clean-up. Overall, persulfate-based in situ chemical oxidation was demonstrated to be an effective and a viable technology for the remediation of contaminated soil and groundwater.