Sorption and permeability of gasoline hydrocarbons in organobentonite porous media

James A. Smith, Shannon L. Bartelt-Hunt, Susan E. Burns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations


We investigate the use of organobentonites as liners for underground gasoline storage tanks to reduce the risk of subsurface contamination. A series of permeability measurements were conducted on two types of organobentonites: benzyltriethylammonium-bentonite (BTEA-bentonite) and hexadecyltrimethylammonium-bentonite (HDTMA-bentonite). Both water and commercial unleaded gasoline were used as the permeant liquids. Results of these measurements indicate that the intrinsic permeability of the organobentonite decreases by one to two orders of magnitude when the permeant liquid is changed from water to gasoline. Results of batch sorption measurements reveal that benzene sorption to both organobentonites from water is greater than benzene sorption to conventional bentonite. The magnitude of benzene sorption is related to the loading of the organic quaternary ammonium cation on the clay. As the HDTMA cation loading increases from 25% of cation exchange capacity (CEC) to 120% of CEC, benzene sorption increases. However, as the BTEA cation loading increases from 40 to 120% of CEC, benzene sorption decreases. Collectively, these results suggest that organobentonites can be used effectively to reduce hydrocarbon migration rates beneath leaking underground gasoline storage tanks, and that the optimal organic cation loading with respect to pollutant sorption may be less than 50% of cation exchange capacity for some organobentonite-solute combinations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-97
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 3 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • Adsorption
  • Benzene
  • Benzyltriethylammonium
  • Ground water
  • Hexadecyltrimethylammonium
  • Organoclay
  • Partition
  • Underground storage tank

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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