Predicting soil-water and soil-air transport properties and their effects on soil-vapor extraction efficiency

Tjalfe G. Poulsen*, Per Moldrup, Toshiko Yamagnchi, Per Schjønning, Jens Aage Hansen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Accurate prediction of water and air transport parameters in variably saturated soil is necessary for modeling of soil-vapor extraction (SVE) at soil sites contaminated with volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). An expression for predicting saturated water permeability (k(l,s)) in undisturbed soils from the soil total porosity and the field capacity soil-water content was developed by fitting a tortuous-tube fluid flow model to measured water permeability and gas diffusivity data. The new k(l,s) expression gave accurate predictions when tested against independent k(l,s) data. The k(l,s) expression was implemented in the Campbell relative water permeability model to yield a predictive model for water permeability in variably saturated, undisturbed soil. The water permeability model, together with recently developed predictive equations for gas permeability and gas diffusivity, was used in a two-dimensional numerical SVE model that also included nonequilibrium mass transfer of VOC from a separate phase (nonaqueous phase liquid [NAPL]) to the air phase. SVE calculations showed that gas permeability is likely the most important factor controlling VOC migration and vapor extraction efficiency. Water permeability and gas diffusivity effects became significant at water contents near and above field capacity. The NAPL-air mass transfer coefficient also had large impacts on simulated vapor extraction efficiency. The calculations suggest that realistic SVE models need to include predictive expressions for both convective, diffusive, and phase-partitioning processes in natural, undisturbed soils.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-70
Number of pages10
JournalGround Water Monitoring and Remediation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

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