Publications

Transport and degradation of propylene glycol in the vadose zone: model development and sensitivity analysis

Schotanus, D.; Meeussen, J.C.L.; Lissner, H.; Ploeg, M.J. van der; Wehrer, M.; Totsche, K.U.; Zee, S.E.A.T.M. van der

Summary

Transport and degradation of de-icing chemical (containing propylene glycol, PG) in the vadose zone were studied with a lysimeter experiment and a model, in which transient water flow, kinetic degradation of PG and soil chemistry were combined. The lysimeter experiment indicated that aerobic as well as anaerobic degradation occurs in the vadose zone. Therefore, the model included both types of degradation, which was made possible by assuming advection-controlled (mobile) and diffusion-controlled (immobile) zones. In the mobile zone, oxygen can be transported by diffusion in the gas phase. The immobile zone is always water-saturated, and oxygen only diffuses slowly in the water phase. Therefore, the model is designed in a way that the redox potential can decrease when PG is degraded, and thus, anaerobic degradation can occur. In our model, manganese oxide (MnO2, which is present in the soil) and NO 3 - - 3 (applied to enhance biodegradation) can be used as electron acceptors for anaerobic degradation. The application of NO 3 - - 3 does not result in a lower leaching of PG nor in a slower depletion of MnO2. The thickness of the snowcover influences the leached fraction of PG, as with a high infiltration rate, transport is fast, there is less time for degradation and thus more PG will leach. The model showed that, in this soil, the effect of the water flow dominates over the effect of the degradation parameters on the leaching at a 1-m depth.