Aqueous phase isotherms were calculated from vapor phase desorption isotherms measured at 15, 30, and 60 °C for trichloroethylene on a silica gel, an aquifer sediment, a soil, a sand fraction, and a clay and silt fraction, all at 100% relative humidity. Isosteric heats of adsorption (Qst(q)) were calculated as a function of the sorbed concentration, q, and examined with respect to the following mechanisms: adsorption on water wet mineral surfaces, sorption in amorphous organic matter (AOM), and adsorption in hydrophobic micropores. Silica gel, sand fraction, and clay and silt fraction 60 °C isotherms are characterized by a Freundlich region and a region at very low concentrations where isotherm points deviate from log-log linear behavior. The latter is designated the non-Freundlich region. For the silica gel, values of Qst(q) (9.5−45 kJ/mol) in both regions are consistent with adsorption in hydrophobic micropores. For the natural solids, values of Qst(q) in the Freundlich regions are less than or equal to zero and are consistent with sorption on water wet mineral surfaces and in AOM. In the non-Freundlich regions, diverging different temperature isotherms with decreasing q and a Qst(q) value of 34 kJ/mol for the clay and silt fraction suggest that adsorption is occurring in hydrophobic micropores. The General Adsorption Isotherm is used to capture this adsorption heterogeneity.
Isothermal desorption rates were measured at 15, 30, and 60 °C for trichloroethylene (TCE) on a silica gel, an aquifer sediment, a soil, a sand fraction, and a clay and silt fraction, all at 100% relative humidity. Temperature-stepped desorption (TSD) rates were measured for these solids in columns prepared and equilibrated at 30 °C, but heated instantaneously to 60 °C after ∼1000 min of slow desorption. Fast and slow elution rates are observed for all solids. Modeling results for the fast eluting fraction of TCE show that fast desorption is controlled by diffusion through aqueous filled mesopores. Rates predicted from diffusion and surface-barrier models are compared to slow isothermal and TSD rates. Diffusion model fits are superior to surface-barrier model fits in all cases. Slow diffusion coefficients and a high activation energy calculated from silica gel data (∼34 kJ/mol) indicate that slow desorption is controlled by activated diffusion in micropores. Initial amounts of slow desorbing TCE do not affect these rates and are found to obey Polanyi's equation. The mass adsorbed in non-Freundlich isotherm regions, where micropores are hypothesized to control adsorption, is 10 times greater than the mass adsorbed at the onset of slow desorption, suggesting that these pores are undulating in nature. TSD column results are consistent with a mechanism where slow diffusion rates are controlled by sorptive forces at hydrophobic micropore constrictions.