Mobilization of Manufactured Gas Plant Tar with Alkaline Flushing Solutions

Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States.
Environmental Science & Technology (Impact Factor: 5.33). 11/2011; 46(1):426-33. DOI: 10.1021/es202278s
Source: PubMed


This experimental study investigates the use of alkaline and alkaline-polymer solutions for the mobilization of former manufactured gas plant (FMGP) tars. Tar-aqueous interfacial tensions (IFTs) and contact angles were measured, and column flushing experiments were conducted. NaOH solutions (0.01-1 wt.%) were found to significantly reduce tar-aqueous IFT. Contact angles indicated a shift to strongly water-wet, then to tar-wet conditions as NaOH concentration increased. Column experiments were conducted with flushing solutions containing 0.2, 0.35, and 0.5% NaOH, both with and without xanthan gum (XG). Between 10 and 44% of the residual tar was removed by solutions containing only NaOH, while solutions containing both NaOH and XG removed 81-93% of the tar with final tar saturations as low as 0.018. The mechanism responsible for the tar removal is likely a combination of reduced IFT, a favorable viscosity ratio, and tar bank formation. Such an approach may have practical applications and would be significantly less expensive than surfactant-based methods.

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