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Characterization of the gas and liquid transport rates and H2SO4 concentration and distribution within an above ground, commercial scale sulphur block



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Excess global elemental sulphur (So) production has resulted in a decrease in its price. As a result, many companies, such as Syncrude Canada Ltd., have resorted to above ground storage alternatives. Geochemical reactions in these above ground blocks produce elevated concentrations of H2SO4 (acid). This acid can have potentially deleterious effects on the environment. As such, these blocks will require long-term (500 years) monitoring and maintenance. Presently the So is removed from the product stream, piped in a molten state, and poured over a low permeability liner in thin lifts. As the So cools and undergoes crystal structure change it fractures, creating preferential flow passages which are potentially highly conductive. An understanding of the liquid conductivity (Kl) of the block and knowledge regarding the spatial and temporal distribution of acid (H2SO4) within these blocks is required. In this thesis, gas pumping tests were conducted on an above ground block to determine the gas flow rates within the block and to indirectly determine the Kl of the block. Measurements of the relative humidity (RH) in the block were used to observe changes in stored acid concentrations with time and location. The results of the gas conductivity (Kg) testing showed that the block is anisotropic and is highly conductive in both the horizontal and vertical directions. Cross hole tests appeared to produce the most representative estimates of Kg due to the negation of turbulence that arises in the vicinity of the borehole. The choice of gas used in the analysis had negligible effect on the resulting Kl in contrast to choice of liquid, which resulted in larger variations in Kl. The Kl was a maximum when the liquid was pure water and decreased with increasing acid strength. The geometric mean of the resulting cross hole Kl values was 2 x 10-3 m s-1 (pure water). RH measurements were observed to fluctuate with depth and increased following precipitation. The resulting minimum pH observed within the block occurred at depths of 3 and 7 meters below the surface of the So block and increased with depth. The arithmetic mean pH value based on the daily averaged RH measurements was -1.7.



gas conductivity, hydraulic conductivity, gas pumping tests, turbulent flow, scale effects, relative humidity, acid strength



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Civil and Geological Engineering


Civil Engineering


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