New DFG-funded fundamental research project at the TU Bergakademie Freiberg

Subsurface contamination by dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) can cause adverse effects for humans and the environment, with high potential for threatening the safety of groundwater resources serving as major source for water supply.

The project ReCAp („The Relevance of Impacts by Climate Change and Anthropogenic Activity for DNAPL Source Zone Formation “; DFG reference EN 1129/1-1, DFG grant number 499973567) aims at systematically investigating the transient dynamics of DNAPL source zone formation to evaluate the relevance of changing external stressors compared to subsurface and fluid phase properties. By employing experimental and model-based methodologies, and by considering changing external stressors (hydraulic, thermal) through defined variation signals, a range of lab-scale simulation scenarios will be performed. This will cover robustly generated experimental observation data in junction with a thoroughly calibrated numerical multiphase flow model.

Subsurface contamination by dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) can cause adverse effects for humans and the environment, with high potential for threatening the safety of groundwater resources serving as major source for water supply. With natural attenuation of water-dissolved DNAPLs as typical remediation approach, despite a range of existing subsurface exploration techniques, the fate of DNAPL-contaminated sites remains unclear due to insufficient data and knowledge on source zones acting as long-term entities for contamination. In addition, climate change and anthropogenic activity may jointly create new hazard potentials by inducing hydraulic and thermal stressors potentially affecting source zones. A robust understanding of the processes associated with DNAPL source zone formation under changing conditions is crucial to ensure an efficient assessment of contaminated sites. 

The DFG individual grant research project involves associated international partners from the Norwegian Life Science University (NMBU), the University of Texas at Austin (UT), as well as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). Two postdocs and three professors participate in this project. The DFG granted funding for a period of 3 years, covering expenses up to approximately 342,000 €. An extension of the project-related works is planned already.

Project leader, TU BAF:

Dr. Christian Engelmann, Prof. Dr. Traugott Scheytt (Section of Hydrogeology and Hydrochemistry)

Partner at NMBU, Ås, Norway:

                Prof. Dr. Helen Kristine French (Faculty for Environmental Sciences and Nature Management)

Partner at CAEE, Austin, TX, USA:

                Prof. Dr. Charles J. Werth (Department of Civil, Architectural and Environmental Engineering)

Partner at CSIRO, Perth, Western Australia:

                Dr. Kaveh Sookhak Lari (Department Land and Water, Floreat site)

[1] Engelmann (2021). Towards an improved understanding of DNAPL source zone formation to strengthen contaminated site assessment: A critical evaluation at the laboratory scale. Doctoral dissertation at the Technische Universität Dresden. URL: https://nbn-resolving.org/urn:nbn:de:bsz:14-qucosa2-769788