Competitive transport processes of chloride, sodium, potassium, and ammonium in fen peat

TitleCompetitive transport processes of chloride, sodium, potassium, and ammonium in fen peat
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsMcCarter, C.P.R., T.K.D. Weber, and J.S. Price
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Start Page17
KeywordsAnion adsorption, Breakthrough curve, Nutrients, Peat, pH, Reactive solute transport

There is sparse information on reactive solute transport in peat; yet, with increasing development of peatland dominated landscapes, purposeful and accidental contaminant releases will occur, so it is important to assess their mobility. Previous experiments with peat have only evaluated single-component solutions, such that no information exists on solute transport of potentially competitively adsorbing ions to the peat matrix. Additionally, recent studies suggest chloride (Cl-) might not be conservative in peat, as assumed by many past peat solute transport studies. Based on measured and modelled adsorption isotherms, this study illustrates concentration dependent adsorption of Cl- to peat occurred in equilibrium adsorption batch (EAB) experiments, which could be described with a Sips isotherm. However, Cl- adsorption was insignificant for low concentrations (<500 mg L−1) as used in breakthrough curve experiments (BTC). We found that competitive adsorption of Na+, K+, and NH4+ transport could be observed in EAB and BTC, depending on the dissolved ion species present. Na+ followed a Langmuir isotherm, K+ a linear isotherm within the tested concentration range (~10 – 1500 mg L−1), while the results for NH4+ are inconclusive due to potential microbial degradation. Only Na+ showed clear evidence of competitive behaviour, with an order of magnitude decrease in maximum adsorption capacity in the presence of NH4+ (0.22 to 0.02 mol kg-1), which was confirmed by the BTC data where the Na+ retardation coefficient differed between the experiments with different cations. Thus, solute mobility in peatlands is affected by competitive adsorption.