Abiotic dechlorination of chlorinated ethenes in natural clayey soils: Impacts of mineralogy and temperature


C. E. Schaefer, Ho, P., Gurr, C., Berns, E., and Werth, C. J., “Abiotic dechlorination of chlorinated ethenes in natural clayey soils: Impacts of mineralogy and temperature,” Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 2017.


Laboratory batch experiments were performed to assess the impacts of temperature and mineralogy on the abiotic dechlorination of tetrachloroethene (PCE) or trichloroethene (TCE) due to the presence of ferrous minerals in natural aquifer clayey soils under anaerobic conditions. A combination of x-ray diffraction (XRD), magnetic susceptibility, and ferrous mineral content were used to characterize each of the 3 natural soils tested in this study, and dechlorination at temperatures ranging from 20 to 55 °C were examined. Results showed that abiotic dechlorination occurred in all 3 soils examined, yielding reduced gas abiotic dechlorination products acetylene, butane, ethene, and/or propane. Bulk first-order dechlorination rate constants (kbulk), scaled to the soil:water ratio expected for in situ conditions, ranged from 2.0 × 10−5 day−1 at 20 °C, to 32 × 10−5 day−1 at 55 °C in the soil with the greatest ferrous mineral content. For the generation of acetylene and ethene from PCE, the reaction was well described by Arrhenius kinetics, with an activation energy of 91 kJ/mol. For the generation of coupling products butane and propane, the Arrhenius equation did not provide a satisfactory description of the data, likely owing to the complex reaction mechanisms associated with these products and/or diffusional mass transfer processes associated with the ferrous minerals likely responsible for these coupling reactions. Although the data set was too limited to determine a definitive correlation, the two soils with elevated ferrous mineral contents had elevated abiotic dechlorination rate constants, while the one soil with a low ferrous mineral content had a relatively low abiotic dechlorination rate constant. Overall, results suggest intrinsic abiotic dechlorination rates may be an important long-term natural attenuation component in site conceptual models for clays that have the appropriate iron mineralogy.


Publisher's Version