Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Engineering Physics

First Advisor

Glen P. Perram, PhD


This laboratory based thesis investigated the desorption rate of trichloroethylene (TCE) from flint clay while varying the resident time of TCE exposed to the clay. It is thought that in long contaminated soil, a majority of contaminant mass will become entrained within the interior of the soil particles to slowly desorb out of the soil over long periods of time. Recent studies suggest that the longer a contaminant is resident in soil, the longer the contaminant will take to desorb from the soil. To understand more about soil desorption, this experiment was developed using infrared spectroscopy to detect TCE vapor that desorbed from clay contaminated with TCE. Several experiments involved clay samples exposed to TCE from one day up to 56 days. The samples were then allowed to desorb for 36 hours. There was an initial, rapid desorption that occurs in the first hour of each experiment followed by a leveling off. This initial desorption mechanism appears to be independent of resident time and may be associated with TCE desorbing from the surface sites of the clay particles. The data from clay exposed to TCE for longer times gradually increases; suggesting a second desorption mechanism associated with the slow diffusion of TCE out of the interior of the soil matrix.

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