A series of interactive web simulation models were developed to help students understand the coupled physical, chemical, and microbiological processes that affect the transport and fate of pollutants in groundwater. Conventional models that simulate coupled processes are often not effective learning tools because they are too complex, they suffer from cumbersome interfaces, and/or they are difficult to install and run. The web models are fully interactive Java applets that run locally through a web browser. They have graphical user interfaces, straightforward input and output fields, and rapid response times. These features enhance learning because students can rapidly visualize the impact of changes to parameter values and boundary and initial conditions, and explore the effect of different reaction processes. Presently, six different web models have been developed to explore coupled processes such as advection, longitudinal and transverse dispersion, linear or rate limited sorption, and first order decay. A web model was also developed to study the flow patterns caused by multiple pumping wells in two‐dimensional steady flow. Several examples of how the models can be used to teach students about coupled processes are discussed. Last, an assessment of the effectiveness of the models to enhance student learning is presented.
A new experimental approach and complementary model analysis are presented for studying colloid transport and fate in porous media. The experimental approach combines high precision etching to create a controlled pore network in a silicon wafer (i.e., micromodel), with epifluorescent microscopy. Two different sizes of latex colloids were used; each was stained with a fluorescent dye. During an experiment, water with colloids was purged through a micromodel at different flow rates. Flow paths and particle velocities were determined and compared with flow paths calculated using a two-dimensional (2D) lattice Boltzmann (LB) model. For 50% of the colloids evaluated, agreement between measured and calculated flow paths and velocities were excellent. For 20%, flow paths agreed, but calculated velocities were less. This is attributed to the parabolic velocity profile across the micromodel depth, which was not accounted for in the 2D flow model. For 12%, flow paths also agreed, but calculated velocities were less. These colloids were close to grain surfaces, where model errors increase. Also, particle–surface interactions were not accounted for in the model; this may have contributed to the discrepancy. For the remaining 18% of colloids evaluated, neither flow paths nor velocities agreed. The majority of colloids in this last case were observed after breakthrough, when concentrations were high. The discrepancies may be due to particle–particle interactions that were not accounted for in the model. Filtration efficiencies for all colloid sizes at different flow rates were calculated from filtration theory. Attachment rates were obtained from successive images during an experiment. With these, attachment efficiencies were calculated, and these agreed with literature values. The study demonstrates that excellent agreement between experimental and model results for colloid transport at the pore scale can be obtained. The results also demonstrate that when experimental and model results do not agree, mechanistic inferences and system limitations can be evaluated.
A field-scale compacted soil liner was constructed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Illinois State Geological Survey in 1988 to investigate chemical transport rates through low permeability compacted clay liners (CCLs). Four tracers (bromide and three benzoic acid tracers) were each added to one of four large ring infiltrometers (LRIs) while tritium was added to the pond water (excluding the infiltrometers). Results from the long-term transport of Br− from the localized source zone of LRI are presented in this paper. Core samples were taken radially outward from the center of the Br− LRI and concentration depth profiles were obtained. Transport properties were evaluated using an axially symmetric transport model. Results indicate that (1) transport was diffusion controlled; (2) transport due to advection was negligible and well within the regulatory limits of ksat⩽1×10−7cm/s; (3) diffusion rates in the horizontal and vertical directions were the same; and (4) small positioning errors due to compression during soil sampling did not affect the best fit advection and diffusion values. The best-fit diffusion coefficient for bromide was equal to the molecular diffusion coefficient multiplied by a tortuosity factor of 0.27, which is within 8% of the tortuosity factor (0.25) found in a related study where tritium transport through the same liner was evaluated. This suggests that the governing mechanisms for the transport of tritium and bromide through the CCL were similar. These results are significant because they address transport through a composite liner from a localized source zone which occurs when defects or punctures in the geomembrane of a composite system are present.