Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Environmental Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Hector R. Fuentes

First Advisor's Committee Title

Major Professor

Second Advisor's Name

Yong Cai

Third Advisor's Name

Georgio Tachiev

Fourth Advisor's Name

Walter Z. Tang

Fifth Advisor's Name

Lakshmi N. Reddi

Keywords

Geochemical model, Mercury, Fate and Transport of Hg

Date of Defense

11-15-2013

Abstract

An awareness of mercury (Hg) contamination in various aquatic environments around the world has increased over the past decade, mostly due to its ability to concentrate in the biota. Because the presence and distribution of Hg in aquatic systems depend on many factors (e.g., pe, pH, salinity, temperature, organic and inorganic ligands, sorbents, etc.), it is crucial to understand its fate and transport in the presence of complexing constituents and natural sorbents, under those different factors. An improved understanding of the subject will support the selection of monitoring, remediation, and restoration technologies.

The coupling of equilibrium chemical reactions with transport processes in the model PHREEQC offers an advantage in simulating and predicting the fate and transport of aqueous chemical species of interest. Thus, a great variety of reactive transport problems could be addressed in aquatic systems with boundary conditions of specific interest. Nevertheless, PHREEQC lacks a comprehensive thermodynamic database for Hg. Therefore, in order to use PHREEQC to address the fate and transport of Hg in aquatic environments, it is necessary to expand its thermodynamic database, confirm it and then evaluate it in applications where potential exists for its calibration and continued validation.

The objectives of this study were twofold: 1) to develop, expand, and confirm the Hg database of the hydrogeochemical PHREEQC to enhance its capability to simulate the fate of Hg species in the presence of complexing constituents and natural sorbents under different conditions of pH, redox, salinity and temperature; and 2) to apply and evaluate the new database in flow and transport scenarios, at two field test beds: Oak Ridge Reservation, Oak Ridge, TN and Everglades National Park, FL, where Hg is present and is of much concern.

Overall, this research enhanced the capability of the PHREEQC model to simulate the coupling of the Hg reactions in transport conditions. It also demonstrated its usefulness when applied to field situations.

Identifier

FI14040822

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