Innovative mathematical modeling in environmental remediation

Gour Tsyh Yeh, Jin Ping Gwo, Malcolm D. Siegel, Ming Hsu Li, Yilin Fang, Fan Zhang, Wensui Luo, Steve B. Yabusaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


There are two different ways to model reactive transport: ad hoc and innovative reaction-based approaches. The former, such as the Kd simplification of adsorption, has been widely employed by practitioners, while the latter has been mainly used in scientific communities for elucidating mechanisms of biogeochemical transport processes. It is believed that innovative mechanistic-based models could serve as protocols for environmental remediation as well. This paper reviews the development of a mechanistically coupled fluid flow, thermal transport, hydrologic transport, and reactive biogeochemical model and example-applications to environmental remediation problems. Theoretical bases are sufficiently described. Four example problems previously carried out are used to demonstrate how numerical experimentation can be used to evaluate the feasibility of different remediation approaches. The first one involved the application of a 56-species uranium tailing problem to the Melton Branch Subwatershed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) using the parallel version of the model. Simulations were made to demonstrate the potential mobilization of uranium and other chelating agents in the proposed waste disposal site. The second problem simulated laboratory-scale system to investigate the role of natural attenuation in potential off-site migration of uranium from uranium mill tailings after restoration. It showed inadequacy of using a single Kd even for a homogeneous medium. The third example simulated laboratory experiments involving extremely high concentrations of uranium, technetium, aluminum, nitrate, and toxic metals (e.g., Ni, Cr, Co). The fourth example modeled microbially-mediated immobilization of uranium in an unconfined aquifer using acetate amendment in a field-scale experiment. The purposes of these modeling studies were to simulate various mechanisms of mobilization and immobilization of radioactive wastes and to illustrate how to apply reactive transport models for environmental remediation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-38
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Environmental Radioactivity
StatePublished - 2013


  • Land remediation
  • Modeling
  • Radioactive contamination
  • Reactive transport


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