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EPSRC Reference: GR/R02849/01
Title: Processes Controlling the Natural Attenuation of Fuel Hydrocarbons & Mtbe In Chalk Aquifer
Principal Investigator: Thornton, Dr SF
Other Investigators:
Bottrell, Professor S Lerner, Professor DN Pickup, Professor P
Banwart, Professor S Pickup, Professor R
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Environment Agency (Grouped) TotalFina
Department: Civil and Structural Engineering
Organisation: University of Sheffield
Scheme: Standard Research (Pre-FEC)
Starts: 01 May 2001 Ends: 31 October 2004 Value (£): 412,185
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Assess/Remediate Contamination
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Environment No relevance to Underpinning Sectors
Related Grants:
Panel History:  
Summary on Grant Application Form
Groundwater pollution by petroleum hydrocarbons such as BTEX and MTBE is an increasing environmental problem. Natural attenuation is a risk-based technology used to remediate BTEX compounds in petroleum-contaminated aquifers, but the potential for attenuation of MTBE is uncertain. Research on the subsurface fate of BTEX and MTBE has primarily focused on matrix porosity aquifers; the behaviour of these compounds in dual-porosity systems is poorly understood. Contaminant transport in dual-porosity aquifers is dominated by the fracture network, but the matrix residence time is high, potentially allowing significant opportunity for contaminant degradation. The key problem is understanding the duration, timing an magnitude of contaminant fluxes, and the extent of degradation to make valid predictions for risk assessment.The research will develop a general process model of natural attenuation of petroleum hydrocarbons and MTBE in dual-porosity aquifers. A combination of field, laboratory and modelling studies will be used to identify controls on the migration, and degradation of BTEX and MTBE hydrocarbons. Novel stable isotope studies and molecular microbial analysis will be used to assess spatial and temporal variations in degradation, as a function of aquifer hydrogeology and contaminant distribution. Parameter values of processes and properties controlling natural attenuation will be determined, enabling the process model to be validated at field-scale.
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Organisation Website: http://www.shef.ac.uk