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Numerical simulation of pollutant transport in soils surrounding subway infrastructure

Abstract

With continued urbanization, public transport infrastructure, e.g., subways, is expected to be built in historically industrial areas. To minimize the transfer of volatile organic compounds and metalloids like arsenic from industrial areas into subway environments and reduce their impact on public health, the transport of pollutants in soil was simulated in this study. During numerical simulations of a contaminated site, the pollutant (arsenic) was transported from layers of higher to lower concentration, and concentration changes were particularly evident in the early simulation stages. The pollutant was transported in soil along the direction of groundwater flow and spread from the center to the periphery of the contaminated zone without inputs from pollution sources. After approximately 400 days, the concentration of all layers became uniform, with slow decreases occurring over time. The pollutant supply rate had a major influence on the pollutant diffusion distance. When other conditions were kept constant, higher supply rates resulted in longer diffusion distances. The simulation results show that a diaphragm wall of a certain depth can effectively control the diffusion of pollutants in soil. These results can be used to improve environmental assessments and remediation efforts and inform engineering decisions during the construction of urban infrastructure at sites affected by historical pollution.

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Abbreviations

v i :

Seepage velocity [m/d]

a L :

Longitudinal dispersivity [m]

a T :

Transverse dispersivity [m]

H :

Hydraulic head [m]

D * :

Effective molecular diffusion coefficient [m2/d]

Θ :

Porosity of the subsurface medium

V i V j V k :

Components of the velocity vector along the i, j, and k axes [m/d]

Χ i Χ j :

Distance along the respective Cartesian coordinate axis [m]

D ii D ij :

Hydrodynamic dispersion coefficient tensor [m2/d]

S :

Sorbed concentration [kg/kg]

a :

Freundlich exponent, dimensionless

kf :

Freundlich constant [(m3/kg)a]

R :

Retardation factor, dimensionless

Ρ b :

Bulk density of the subsurface medium [kg/m3]

λ :

First-order reaction rate [1/d]

C S :

Concentration of the source or sink flux for various species [kg/m3]

q S :

Volumetric flow rate per unit volume of the aquifer [m3/d]

Ki :

Principal component of the hydraulic conductivity tensor [m/d]

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Correspondence to Cuihong Zhou.

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Responsible editor: Marcus Schulz

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Cite this article

Zhou, C., Liu, C., Liang, J. et al. Numerical simulation of pollutant transport in soils surrounding subway infrastructure. Environ Sci Pollut Res 25, 6859–6869 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-0968-0

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Keywords

  • Pollutant transport
  • Numerical simulation
  • Orthogonal experiment
  • Diaphragm wall
  • Transportation infrastructure
  • Modeling