American Society of Civil Engineers

Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Transport through Compacted Clay

by Jae Y. Kim, A.M.ASCE, (Asst. Prof., Div. of Civ., Urban, and Geosys. Engrg., Seoul Natl. Univ. 151-742, Seoul, Korea), Tuncer B. Edil, (corresponding author), M.ASCE, (Prof., Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706), and Jae K. Park, (Assoc. Prof., Dept. of Civ. and Envir. Engrg., Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI)

Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, Vol. 127, No. 2, February 2001, pp. 126-134, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: Movement of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) through compacted clay liners was investigated using laboratory-scale column and tank tests. Hydraulic conductivity of the compacted clay was not significantly impacted by the introduction of VOCs in concentrations up to 20 mg/L. Soil-water partition coefficients of the seven VOCs tested had a strong logarithmic relationship with the octanol-water partition coefficient. Partition coefficients from batch tests were in good agreement with those measured directly on soil samples at the termination of the column/tank tests. The VOCs were degraded in the clay, with estimated half-lives ranging from 2 to 116 days. Mechanical dispersion was not significant in the range of the hydraulic conductivities of the test specimens (i.e., ≪10-7 cm/s). Effective molecular diffusion coefficients were mostly in 10-6 cm²/s and generally decreased with increasing aqueous solubility. Mass transport parameters of VOCs in clay liners can be estimated from laboratory batch tests and properly prepared small-scale column tests. However, accounting for degradation of VOCs and minimizing the number of transport parameters that are simultaneously estimated from a single response-time record are important considerations for accurate determination of transport parameters.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Clay liners
Hydraulic conductivity
Mass transport
Organic compounds