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Biogeochemical transport modelling of groundwater remediation based on a permeable reactive barrier and natural attenuation


Remediation of groundwater pollution has traditionally been achieved by energy-intensive and drastic methods such as pump and treat systems. Recently, more economically viable and less invasive methods such as monitored natural attenuation and permeable reactive barriers have been used to clean up a wide variety of groundwater pollutants. These latter techniques rely on in-situ biogeochemical transformations of the pollutants into less harmful components. However, sound application of these techniques requires a solid understanding of the site-specific hydrogeolocical and biogeochemical conditions, and a predictive assessment of long-term remediation efficiency.

The objective of the proposed research is to develop a reactive transport modelling tool that accounts for these complex biogeochemical reactions and allows: (1) the interpretation of laboratory and field data from a contaminated industrial site in Belgium; and (2) the prediction and comparison of the long-term performance of remediation strategies based on permeable reactive barrier technology and monitored natural attenuation.

Results will provide insight into the relative merits of these technologies for groundwater remediation at the study site, and will generate a modelling tool that can be applied to other sites to assess likely success or failure of these alternative remediation techniques.

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