Fate of TCE in Phytoremediation Systems

by Xingmao Ma,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: World Water & Environmental Resources Congress 2003


The phytoremediation of trichloroethylene (TCE) and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) has been developed from a mere concept to full applications over the past decade. However, the results regarding TCE fates and removal pathways are conflicting and elusive, in particular, the results regarding volatilization to the atmosphere. Research presented here demonstrates that diffusion from stems was the primary fate after uptake by plants even though compounds may have variable fates. TCE concentration in the transpiration stream was shown to decline exponentially along height for the first time. The diffusion from stems also decreases exponentially along height. A simple model was developed to describe these processes. The model matched well with the experimentally collected data of diffusion and contaminants. distribution in plants. The model provides a tool to estimate the transfer of TCE from groundwater or soil to the atmosphere in phytoremediation applications. The research also demonstrated that many factors have impact on the diffusion flux, including the flow rate, concentration in the groundwater, tree radius, Transpiration Stream Concentration Factor (TSCF), diffusion coefficient of compounds passing through tree tissues, and stem height.

Subject Headings: TCE | Diffusion (porous media) | Rivers and streams | Volatile organic compounds | Trees | Transpiration | Pollutants

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