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Mass flux of organic chemicals through polyethylene geomembranes

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Lining of waste storage and disposal sites is a common practice to prevent hazardous waste constituents from migrating out of the facility into the surrounding environment. Recently, geomembranes have been widely used to line the waste storage and disposal sites and are expected to be even more common in the future. However, there are not enough data available on the mass transport of organic chemicals through geomembranes by the physicochemical process of partition and diffusion. In this study, partition and diffusion coefficients were measured using a gravimetric method for high-density polyethylene (HDPE) geomembrane in acetone, chlorobenzene, ethyl acetate, ethylbenzene, n-hexane, methylene chloride (MC), n-octane, toluene, trichloroethylene (TCE), and m-xylene. Sorption tests were also conducted with mixtures of TCE, MC, toluene, gasoline, and aqueous solutions of TCE, MC, toluene, and m-xylene. The effect of geomembrane thickness on the mass flux parameters was also evaluated.

A mathematical model with a time-dependent diffusion coefficient successfully simulated sorption curves of pure chemicals. The partition and diffusion coefficients of individual organic compounds in a mixture were accurately predicted from the mass-transport parameters of individual pure chemicals by multiplying them with their mole fractions. Low-density polyethylene geomembranes had approximately 4 times and 10 times greater partition and diffusion coefficients than HDPE geomembranes, respectively. A mathematical model together with the experimentally determined parameters was used to predict the mass flux of selected organic chemicals present in gasoline through a 10.2-cm (4-in.) HDPE pipe (0.4-cm [0.16-in.] thick).

Keywords: diffusion coefficient; gasoline; geomembranes; gravimetric method; high density polyethylene; mass transport; organic chemicals; partition coefficient; permeation; sorption

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1993-05-01

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  • Water Environment Research (WER) is published monthly, including an annual Literature Review. A subscription to WER includes access to the latest content back to 1992, as well as access to fast track articles. An individual subscription is valid for 12 months from month of purchase.

    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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