Thermal venting to recover less-volatile hydrocarbons from the unsaturated zone: 1. Theory

J. J. Kaluarachchi, Utah State University
K. M. Islam


Thermal venting is a remediation technique suitable to the liquid unsaturated zone to enhance recovery of less-volatile residual hydrocarbon contaminants. Thermal venting is different to traditional soil venting because heated air instead of air at ambient conditions is applied to the contaminated zone. The vapor pressure of a less-volatile contaminants is typically increased by temperature causing the gas-phase concentrations to increase by three- to five-fold over a temperature increase of 20–30°C. The work described in this first paper provides the theoretical framework of analysis related to thermal venting. The analysis included nonisothermal gas flow, thermal energy transport and multicomponent mass transport in a multiphase porous medium. The transient gas flow analysis included the effect of temperature on fluid properties and gas compressibility. The heat energy transport analysis was performed under the thermodynamic equilibrium condition with phase-summed effective thermal properties. Multi-component mass transport was performed under local equilibrium for partitioning between phases. Model verification was performed to the extend possible using analytical and available experimental data for different physical processes. The second paper of this two-part series will demonstrate the applicability of thermal venting technique through numerical simulations of hypothetical laboratory and field-scale scenarios.