Field and numerical analysis of in-situ air sparging: a case study1Purdue University Agricultural Research Program Journal number: 16089.1 Academic Article uri icon


  • An in-situ air sparging operation was used to remediate the sandy subsurface soils and shallow groundwater under a drum storage site near Chicago, IL, where either periodic or random spillage of a light non-aqueous phase liquid (LNAPL) occurred between 1980 and 1987. Both field measurements and model simulations using commercially available computer software suggested that microbial degradation was the most significant contributor to the removal of contaminant mass. Toluene, ethylbenzene and total xylenes (TEX), which were of major concern with regards to reaching clean-up criteria at the site, were observed to decline by 88% in concentration. Furthermore, up to 97% of the total mass removed through microbial degradation consisted of TEX. Of the total contaminant spill, up to 23% of initial organic chemical mass was removed through microbial degradation compared to less than 6% by physical stripping. Greater loss to microbial degradation is most likely attributed to the relatively low air injection rate used during the course of the air sparging remediation. Evaluation of air sparging at the site using model simulations supported this analysis by estimating 140 and 620 kg of total contaminant mass being removed through volatilization and biodegradation, respectively. An evaluation of several system design parameters using model simulations suggested that only the type of sparging operation (i.e. pulsed or continuous) was significant in terms of total contaminant removal time, while both the sparging operation and air injection rate were significant in terms of removal of a critical species, total xylenes.

author list (cited authors)

  • Benner, M. L., Stanford, S. M., Lee, L. S., & Mohtar, R. H.

citation count

  • 13

publication date

  • February 2000