Modelling of cation concentrations in the outflow of NaNO 3 percolation experiments through Boom Clay cores
A laboratory percolation experiment was performed to study the effect of a NaNO 3 plume on the Boom Clay. In this experiment, Boom Clay cores were consecutively percolated with Boom Clay pore water and Boom Clay pore water to which NaNO 3 was added. The concentration of NaNO 3 in the pore water was increased stepwise (0.1, 0.5, and 1 M NaNO 3). The concentrations of Na, K, Ca, Mg and Sr in the eluted water were measured. After every switch of the NaNO 3 concentration, the concentration profiles of K, Ca, Mg, and Sr showed a sharp rise, followed by a slow decrease. It was hypothesised that the cation elution curves are mainly determined by cation exchange processes. Reactive coupled transport modelling with the PHREEQC-2 code was used to describe the experimentally observed elution curves for the cations. Solute transport and water-clay interaction mechanisms, namely cation exchange, were accounted for in the model. Cation exchange parameters (cation exchange capacity and selectivity coefficients) previously determined on non-perturbed Boom Clay ( De Craen et al., 2004) were used. A sensitivity analysis was performed to assess the influence of these parameter values on the goodness of the model to describe the experimental data. The model could fairly well describe the experimentally observed cation concentrations in the eluted water, confirming that cation exchange is indeed the dominant mechanism regulating the cation elution in the percolation experiments.