An Assessment of Factors Affecting Reactive Transport of Biodegradable BTEX in an Unconfined Aquifer System, Tehran Oil Refinery, Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


1 PhD student in Mining Engineering, Faculty of Mining, Petroleum and Geophysics, Shahrood University of Technology, Iran

2 Professor, Faculty of Mining, Petroleum and Geophysics, Shahrood University of Technology, Iran

3 Head of Environmental department at Tehran Oil Refining Company, Iran


Risk-based assessment methods are commonly used at the contaminated sites by hydrocarbon pollutants. This paper presents the results of a two-dimensional finite volume model of reactive transport of biodegradable BTEX which have been developed for the saturated zone of an unconfined aquifer in the Pump station area of Tehran oil refinery, Iran. The model governing equations were numerically solved by modification of a general commercial software called PHOENICS. To reduce costs in general, many input parameters of a model are often approximated based on the used values in the contaminated sites with same conditions. It was not fully recognised the effect of errors in these inputs on modelling outputs. Thus, a sensitivity analysis was carried out to determine the influence of parameters variability on the results of model. For this analysis, the sensitivity of the model to changes in the dispersivity, distribution coefficient, parameters of Monod, Michaelis-Menten, first- and zero- order kinetics modes on the BTEX contaminant plume were examined by performing several simulations. It was found that the model is sensitive to changes in dispersivity and parameters of Michaelis-Menten, first- and zero- order kinetics model. On the other hand, the predictions for plumes assuming Monod kinetics are similar, even if different values for parameterization are chosen. The reason for this insensibility is that degradation is not limited by microbial kinetics in the simulation, but by dispersive mixing. Quantifying the effect of changes in model input parameters on the modelling results is essential when it is desired to recognise which model parameters are more vital on the fate and transport of reactive pollutants. Furthermore, this process can provide an insight into understanding pollutant transportation mechanisms.