Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Comparison of Soil Extraction Isotherms of Soil Samples Saturated With Nonpolar Liquids

  • 22 Accesses

  • 2 Citations


In multiphase systems capillary pressures play a significant role on fluid movement and retention. The facility to predict the effect of different thermal remediation strategies requires the knowledge of the effect of temperature on capillary pressure-saturation relationships in the soils.

The objective of recent study was (a) to develop a technique for routinely measuring the pressure-saturation curves of soil samples saturated with a nonpolar liquid at different regulated temperatures (b) to build a database using the measured pressure-saturation curves and the physical, chemical properties of the model soils (c) to establish the dependence of nonaqueous phase liquid retention on the soil properties and the temperature.

The retention curves (extraction isotherms) with nonaqueous phase liquid were determined using a modified pressure plate extractor. The wetting phase was a non-aromatic hydrocarbon distillation product. Pressure plates were designed and constructed in the laboratory of our department. The temperature was held constant at 20, 40 and 60 C.

Statistical analysis was performed involving selected soil parameters and the measured nonaqueous phase liquid retention data. The results show that knowing some easily measurable soil parameters (bulk density, particle size distribution, humus and lime content) we can estimate the nonaqueous phase liquid retention of the soils. The measured “extraction isotherms” provide essential information about the temperature-dependency of pressure-saturation curves.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Adamson, A. W.: 1990, Physical Chemistry of Surfaces, 5th. edn. Wiley-Interscience, New York, pp. 777.

  2. Ahuja, L. R., Naney, J. W. and Williams, R. D.: 1985, ‘Estimating soil water characteristics from simpler properties or limited data’, Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 49, 1100–1105.

  3. Anderson, W. G.: 1987, ‘The effect of wettability on capillary pressure, Wettability Literature Survey 4’, J. Pet. Technol. 39, 1283–1300.

  4. Arya, L. M., Leij, F. J. and van Genuchten, M. Th.: 1999, ‘Relationship between particle-size distribution and soil water retention’, in M.Th. van Genuchten (ed.), Characterization and Measurement of the Hydraulic Properties of Unsaturated Porous Media, International Workshop Riverside, CA, Oct 22–24, 1997; U.S. Salinity Laboratory, USDA: Riverside, CA, pp. 931–946.

  5. Bradford, S. A. and Leij, F. J.: 1995, ‘Wettability effects on scaling two- and three-fluid capillary pressure-saturation relations’, Environ. Sci. Technol. 29, 1446–1455.

  6. Brutsaert, W.: 1967, ‘Some methods of calculating unsaturated permeability’, Trans. ASAE 10, 400–404.

  7. Búzás, I. (ed.): 1993, Methods of Soil Analysis; INDA: Budapest, Hungary, Vol. 1–2.

  8. Dane, J. H., Oostrom, M. and Missildine, B. C.: 1992, ‘An improved method for the determination of capillary pressure-saturation curves involving TCE, Water and Air’, J. Contam. Hydrol. 11, 69–81.

  9. Davis, E. L.: 1994, ‘Effect of temperature and pore size ont he hydraulic properties and flow of a hydrocarbon oil int he subsurface’, J. Contam. Hydrol. 16, 55–86.

  10. Demond, A. H. and Roberts, P. V.: 1991, ‘Effect of interfacial forces on two-phase capillary pressure-saturation relationships’, Water Resour. Res. 27, 423–437.

  11. Ferrand, L. I., Milly, P. C. D., Pinder, G. F. and Turrin, R. P.: 1990, ‘A comparison of capillary pressure-saturation relations for drainage in two- and three-fluid porous media’, Adv. Water Resour. 13, 54–63.

  12. Gupta, S. C. and Larson, W. E.: 1979, ‘Estimating soil water retention characteristics from particle-size distribution, organic matter percent and bulk density’, Water Resour. Res. 15, 1633–1635.

  13. Klute, A.: 1986, ‘Water retention: Laboratory methods’, in A. Klute (ed.), Methods of Soil Analysis. Part1. Physical and Mineralogical Method; 2nd. edn. Agronomy No. 9.; American Society of Agronomy, Inc. & Soil Science Society of America, Inc.: Madison, Wisconsin, pp. 635–662.

  14. Lenhard, R. J. and Brooks, R. H.: 1985, ‘Comparison of liquid retention curves with polar and nonpolar liquids’, Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 49, 816–821.

  15. Lenhard, R. J. and Parker, J. C.: 1987, ‘Measurement and prediction of saturation-pressure relations in three phase porous media systems’, J. Contam. Hydrol. 1, 407–424.

  16. Lenhard, R. J. and Parker, J. C.: 1988, ‘Experimental validation of theory of extending two-phase saturation-pressure relations to three-fluid phase systems for monotonic drainage paths’, Water Resour. Res. 24, 373–380.

  17. Lenhard, R. J., Dane, J. H., Parker, J. C. and Kaluarachchi: 1988, ‘Measurement and simulation of one-dimensional transient three-phase flow for monotonic liquid drainage’, Water Resour. Res. 24, 853–863.

  18. Leverett, M. C.: 1941, ‘Capillary behavior in porous solids’, Trans. AIME. 142, 151.

  19. Makó, A.: 1999, ‘Measuring the soil physical parameters of clayey soils using NAPLs’, in Geophysical Research Abstracts Vol. 1, European Geophysical Society XXIV General Assembly, The Hague, Netherlands, Apr. 19–23, 336.

  20. Makó, A.: 2002, ‘Measuring and estimating the pressure-saturation curves on undisturbed soil samples using water and NAPL’, Agrokémia és Talajtan 51, 27–36.

  21. Makó, A.: 2005, ‘Measuring the two-phase capillary pressure-saturation curves of soil samples saturated with nonpolar liquids’, Communications in Soil Sciences and Plant Analysis. (in press)

  22. Nimmo, J. R.: 1999, ‘Predicting soil-water retention and hydraulic conductivity from textural and structural information’, in M. Th. van Genuchten (ed.), Characterization and Measurement of the Hydraulic Properties of Unsaturated Porous Media, International Workshop Riverside, CA, Oct 22–24, 1997; U.S. Salinity Laboratory, USDA: Riverside, CA, pp. 923–930.

  23. Parker, J. C., Lenhard, R. J. and Kuppusamy, T.: 1987, ‘A parametric model for constitutive properties governing multiphase flow in porous media’, Water Resour. Res. 23, 618–624.

  24. Poston, S. W., Ysrael, S., Hossain, A. K. M. S., Montgomery, E. F., III and Ramey, H. J., Jr.: 1970, ‘The effect of temperature on irreducible water saturation and relative permeability of unconsolidated sands’, SPE J. 10, 171–180.

  25. Puckett, W. E., Dane, J. H. and Hajek, B. F.: 1985, ‘Physical and mineralogical data to determine soil hydraulic properties’, Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 49, 831–836.

  26. Rajkai, K., Várallyay, Gy., Pachepsky, Ya. A. and Scherbakov, R. A.: 1981, ‘Calculation of water retention data from the texture and the bulk density of soils (In Hungarian)’, Agrokémia és Talajtan. 30, 409–438.

  27. Rajkai, K.: 1987–1988, ‘The relationship between water retention and different soil properties (In Hungarian)’, Agrokémia és Talajtan 36–37, 15–30.

  28. Rubin, H., Narkis, N. and Carberry, J.: 1998, Soil and Aquifer Pollution. Non-aqueous Phase Liquids — Contamination and Reclamation, Springer-Verlag: Berlin, pp. 412.

  29. Schuch, W. M. and Bauder, J. W.: 1986, ‘Effect of soil properties on hydraulic conductivity — moisture relationships’, Soil Sci. Soc. Am. J. 50, 848–855.

  30. She, H. Y. and Sleep, B. E.: 1998, ‘The effect of temperature on capillary pressure — saturation relationships for air-water and perchloroethylene-water systems’, Water Resour. Res. 34, 2587–2597.

  31. Steffy, D. A., Barry, D. A. and Johnston, C. D.: 1997, ‘Improved scaling technique for two-phase pressure-saturation relationships’, J. Contam. Hydrol. 28, 207–225.

  32. van Reeuwijk, L. P. (ed.): 1995, ‘Particle-size Analysis’, in Procedures for Soil Analysis, 5th edn. International Soil Reference and Information Centre: Wageningen.

  33. Várallyay, Gy., Rajkai, K., Pachepsky, Ya. A. and Mironenko, E. V.: 1979, ‘Mathematical description of water retention curves (In Hungarian)’, Agrokémia és Talajtan, 28, 15–38.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to András Makó.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Makó, A., Elek, B. Comparison of Soil Extraction Isotherms of Soil Samples Saturated With Nonpolar Liquids. Water Air Soil Pollut: Focus 6, 331–342 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11267-005-9026-x

Download citation


  • extraction isotherms
  • hydrocarbon spill
  • NAPL retention
  • pressure plate extractor
  • pressure-saturation curves
  • soil pollution
  • temperature-dependency