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Ethanol blends carry hidden risk
Date:12/13/2013

y less inside than outside.

The simulations determined that when there is no generation of methane from a plume, benzene would not be a problem -- even for sources less than a meter below a foundation. But methane generation near a source significantly increased indoor concentrations of benzene; traces of the gas would be detected even when the source lay as much as 13 meters below a building.

Alvarez said the paper's lead author, Rice graduate student Jie Ma, has done extensive work to characterize bacterial activity at spill sites. "He figured out where the ones eating methane and consuming oxygen are most active. Most of them are concentrated in a very thin layer called the capillary fringe, where capillary forces suck the water up, above the saturated zone.

"It turns out this is a sweet spot where there's enough oxygen and moisture for the microbes to be happy, and it's close to high methane concentrations," Alvarez said. "They were present in several orders of magnitude higher than anywhere else. It's because of this biological filter that we rarely get explosions above the ground.

"That's the positive effect. The negative effect is that they're consuming the oxygen, and while they're saving us from explosions, they're allowing benzene to flow through. It's a trade-off."


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Contact: David Ruth
david@rice.edu
713-348-6327
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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