Mobility and interaction of heavy metals in a natural soil

Emanuela Bianchi Janetti, Ishai Dror, Monica Riva, Alberto Guadagnini, Xavier Sanchez-Vila, Brian Berkowitz

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We study the mobility and interaction under competing conditions observed for copper () and zinc () ions in the context of laboratory-scale experiments performed in natural soil columns. The experiments focus on the analysis of solute breakthrough curves (BTCs) obtained after injection of an aqueous solution containing similar concentrations of the two metal ions into a soil column fully saturated with double deionized water. Transport of the competing ions is tested for the same soil under aerobic and anaerobic conditions. Measurements show that the species with lower affinity for the soil, , migrates occupying all available adsorption sites, and is then progressively replaced by the ion with higher affinity, . The two ions are displaced in the system with different effective retardation. The slowest species replaces the sorbed ions, resulting in observed concentrations that display a non-monotonic behavior in time and which, for a certain period, are larger than the concentration supplied continuously at the inlet. In the absence of a complete geochemical characterization of the system, we show that the measured concentrations of both metals can be interpreted through simple models based on a set of coupled partial differential and algebraic equations, involving a small subset of aqueous and adsorbed species that are present in the system. Depending on the model considered, the relationship between aqueous and adsorbed ion concentrations is described at equilibrium by a Gaines-Thomas (GT) formulation, a competitive Sheindorf-Rebhun-Sheintuch (SRS) isotherm, or an Extended Langmuir (EL) isotherm, respectively. The GT formulation provides the best interpretation of the observed behavior among the models tested. We find that employing these simple models, which account only for the main governing reactive processes, allows reasonable estimation of the observed BTCs in experiments where only partial geochemical datasets are available.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-315
Number of pages21
JournalTransport in Porous Media
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2013


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