A Large-Scale Experimental Investigation of the Impact of Ethanol on Groundwater Contamination

EPA Grant Number: R831276C016
Subproject: this is subproject number 016 , established and managed by the Center Director under grant CR831276
(EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).

Center: Gulf Coast HSRC (Lamar)
Center Director: Ho, Tho C.
Title: A Large-Scale Experimental Investigation of the Impact of Ethanol on Groundwater Contamination
Investigators: Rixey, William G.
Current Investigators: Rixey, William G. , Bedient, Philip B.
Institution: University of Houston - University Park
Current Institution: University of Houston - University Park , Rice University
EPA Project Officer: Lasat, Mitch
Project Period: December 1, 2003 through November 30, 2004
Project Amount: Refer to main center abstract for funding details.
RFA: Gulf Coast Hazardous Substance Research Center (Lamar University) (1996) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Hazardous Waste/Remediation , Targeted Research

Objective:

Methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) contamination in groundwater and surface water in the United States is widespread and considered a major threat to drinking water resources. The fuel oxygenate is therefore being phase out, and ethanol is the leading oxygenate to replace MTBE. To prevent a repeat of the problems associated with MTBE, the potential impacts to groundwater quality resulting from the inevitable releases of ethanol-blended gasoline must be understood. Typical scenarios include leaks of ethanol-blended gasoline from underground storage tanks, accidents with railroad cars or tanker trucks and spills of neat ethanol at distribution terminals. One of the major concerns regarding ethanol releases is its potential to cosolubilize benzene and other aromatic compounds in groundwater.

There have been some prior laboratory studies that have addressed the cosolubilization of benzene by ethanol, including research by Dr. Rixey at the University of Houston. However, a larger-scale investigation is needed to more thoroughly address the environmental implications associated with the use of ethanol additive fuels.

The objective of this research is to simulate spill scenarios in the field with a controlled pilot-scale system. This proposed research will merge the expertise of two universities (Rice and the University of Houston) by studying the impacts of ethanol in the Experimental Controlled Release System (ECRS), a pilot-scale tank designed specifically to test environmental remediation techniques on a scale that more closely resembles that in the field.

Approach:

Dr. Bedient at Rice University has considerable expertise in conducting large-scale studies and has recently used the ECRS to bridge laboratory studies and field studies in a study sponsored through GCHSRC that investigated the bioremediation of a PCE DNAPL source. Dr. Rixey has considerable, and complimentary, laboratory experience that includes recent research specific to the impact of ethanol on groundwater quality.

Expected Results:

The proposed research program will include the following activities:
1. Simulate the impact of ethanol on groundwater contamination in carefully controlled, large-scale laboratory experiments and complementary bench-scale experiments.
2. Investigate three important spill scenarios:

(1) gasoline containing ethanol (i.e., gasohol);
(2) neat ethanol onto existing gasoline contamination;
(3) fuel-grade ethanol into the subsurface w/o existing contamination.
3. Assess the impact of ethanol on the potential enhancement in BTEX plumes and sources of NAPL contamination.
4. Analyze and evaluate experimental results through a joint modeling effort.

Supplemental Keywords:

RFA, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Water, POLLUTANTS/TOXICS, Contaminated Sediments, Environmental Chemistry, Chemicals, Hazardous Waste, Ecology and Ecosystems, Drinking Water, Hazardous, Environmental Engineering, hazardous waste treatment, monitoring, NAPL, leaking underground storage tanks, MTBE, contaminated sediment, hazardous waste storage, benzene, contaminated soil, BTEX, gasoline leaks, groundwater remediation, ethanol, contaminated groundwater, other - risk management, drinking water contaminants

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final

  • Main Center Abstract and Reports:

    CR831276    Gulf Coast HSRC (Lamar)

    Subprojects under this Center: (EPA does not fund or establish subprojects; EPA awards and manages the overall grant for this center).
    R831276C001 DNAPL Source Control by Reductive Dechlorination with Fe(II)
    R831276C002 Arsenic Removal and Stabilization with Synthesized Pyrite
    R831276C003 A Large-Scale Experimental Investigation of the Impact of Ethanol on Groundwater Contamination
    R831276C004 Visible-Light-Responsive Titania Modified with Aerogel/Ferroelectric Optical Materials for VOC Oxidation
    R831276C005 Development of a Microwave-Induced On-Site Regeneration Technology for Advancing the Control of Mercury and VOC Emissions Employing Activated Carbon
    R831276C006 Pollution Prevention through Functionality Tracking and Property Integration
    R831276C007 Compact Nephelometer System for On-Line Monitoring of Particulate Matter Emissions
    R831276C008 Effect of Pitting Corrosion Promoters on the Treatment of Waters Contaminated with a Nitroaromatic Compounds Using Integrated Reductive/Oxidative Processes
    R831276C009 Linear Polymer Chain and Bioengineered Chelators for Metals Remediation
    R831276C010 Treatment of Perchlorate Contaminated Water Using a Combined Biotic/Abiotic Process
    R831276C011 Rapid Determination of Microbial Pathways for Pollutant Degradation
    R831276C012 Simulations of the Emission, Transport, Chemistry and Deposition of Atmospheric Mercury in the Upper Gulf Coast Region
    R831276C013 Reduction of Environmental Impact and Improvement of Intrinsic Security in Unsteady-state
    R831276C014 Integrated Chemical Complex and Cogeneration Analysis System: Greenhouse Gas Management and Pollution Prevention Solutions
    R831276C015 Improved Combustion Catalysts for NOx Emission Reduction
    R831276C016 A Large-Scale Experimental Investigation of the Impact of Ethanol on Groundwater Contamination
    R831276C017 Minimization of Hazardous Ion-Exchange Brine Waste by Biological Treatment of Perchlorate and Nitrate to Allow Brine Recycle
    R831276C018 Integrated Chemical Complex and Cogeneration Analysis System: Greenhouse Gas Management and Pollution Prevention Solutions