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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




The sorption of hydrophobic organic compounds (HOCs) to soil organic matter (SOM) is of critical importance for modeling the transport and fate of such compounds in the environment. Being able to model such interactions through mathematical means in becoming increasingly important for the accurate assessment of appropriate remediation strategies. The sorption of hydrophobic compounds to SOM has been described by many investigators using the Freundlich sorption equation. This treatment produces a sorption coefficient, Kf that correlates to the capacity factor of the sorbent. Recently a new theoretical analysis has been proposed which relates the sorption capacity of a sorbent to a modified Freundlich coefficient, Kf. by incorporating the fugacities, activity coefficients, and supercooled liquid state solubility of the system. This research is designed to assess the utility of Kf when working with three model and nine natural sorbents with the hydrophobic compounds naphthalene, phenanthrene, and biphenyl. The model sorbents were utilized because they are simpler systems from which to compare the soil samples. This research shows that the Kf is a better descriptor because it removes all dimensional problems from the analysis. Therefore, for these compounds/sorbent pairs, Kf gives a more accurate physical representation of the system by removing inconsistent units of constants that occur when comparing the sorption of organic molecules by different sorbents. It allows a more correct assessment of the effects of organic carbon content and physical heterogeneity on the sorption of HOCs by soils and their humin fraction.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Soils -- Organic compound content

Soil absorption and adsorptions




Number of Pages



South Dakota State University