The high hydrophobicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) is the main limiting factor for the remediation of soils and aquifers. Surfactants are amphiphilic substances which encourage the transfer of hydrophobic compounds from the solid to the liquid phase. While the interaction between organic matter and surfactants has been widely studied, there is a lack of knowledge concerning the relationship between surfactant efficiency and the granulometry of soil and/or geologic material. In this paper, three non-ionic surfactants (Tween 80, Gold Crew, and BS-400) were used to study the desorption of pyrene, chosen as a representative PAH, in soils with different grain size proportions (1%, 5%, 10%, and 20% of clay and silt) and no organic matter (<0.1%). The best quantity of surfactant to apply is closely related to the proportion of fine materials. Tween 80 gave better maximum desorption than Gold Crew and BS-400 (89%, 40%, and 36%, respectively). As an important proportion of aquifers show fine material above 1%, the effective critical micellar concentration obtained when applying surfactants to this type of geologic materials has to be higher than 150 mg L -1 for Tween 80, and higher than 65 mg L -1, and 100 mg L -1 for Golf Crew and BS 400, respectively. Furthermore, results indicate that carrying out simple laboratory tests before the use of surfactants on a field scale is necessary to improve the efficiency and minimize the financial and environmental impact of its application. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011.
- Batch study
- Grain size