A consistent geochemical modelling approach for the leaching and reactive transport of major and trace elements in MSWI bottom ash

J.J. Dijkstra, J.C.L. Meeussen, H.A. van der Sloot, R.N.J. Comans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


To improve the long-term environmental risk assessment of waste applications, a predictive "multi-surface" modelling approach has been developed to simultaneously predict the leaching and reactive transport of a broad range of major and trace elements (i.e., pH, Na, Al, Fe, Ca, SO4, Mg, Si, PO4, CO3, Cl, Ni, Cu, Zn, Cd, Pb, Mo) and fulvic acids from MSWI bottom ash. The geochemical part of the model approach incorporates surface complexation/precipitation on Fe/Al (hydr)oxides, complexation with humic and fulvic acids (HA and FA, respectively) and mineral dissolution/precipitation. In addition, a novel approach is used to describe the dynamic leaching of FA, based on the surface complexation of FA on Fe/Al (hydr)oxides. To enable reactive transport calculations, the geochemical part of the model is combined with advective/dispersive transport of water and first-order mass transfer between mobile and stagnant zones. Using a single, independently determined set of input parameters, adequate model predictions are obtained for the leaching of a broad range of elements under widely different conditions, as verified with data from the European standardised pH-static and percolation leaching tests (TS 14997 and TS 14405, respectively). The percolation tests were operated at different flow velocities and with flow interruptions to enable verification of the local equilibrium assumption. Although the combination of experimental and modelling results indicates that the leaching of major solubility-controlled elements occurs largely under local equilibrium conditions, this study has led to the identification of physical non-equilibrium processes for non-reactive soluble salts, as well as possible sorption-related non-equilibrium processes for the leaching of Mo, FA and associated trace metals. Further improvement of the reactive transport model can be achieved by a more mechanistic description of the (dynamic) leaching behaviour of humic substances. As the modelling approach outlined in this study is based on the fundamental processes that underlie leaching, the approach is expected to be also applicable to other granular contaminated materials application scenarios and conditions. Therefore, the combination of standardized leaching test methods, selective chemical extractions and mechanistic modelling, constitutes a promising generic approach to assess the long-term environmental impact of the application of granular contaminated materials in the environment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1544-1562
JournalApplied Geochemistry
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • affecting leachate composition
  • natural organic-matter
  • humic substances
  • heavy-metals
  • fulvic-acid
  • surface complexation
  • landfill lostorf
  • ion-binding
  • adsorption
  • speciation

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A consistent geochemical modelling approach for the leaching and reactive transport of major and trace elements in MSWI bottom ash'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this