Arp, H.P.H.; Fenner, K.; Schmidt, Torsten Claus:

Predicting Methyl tert-Butyl Ether, tert-Butyl Formate, and tert-Butyl Alcohol Levels in the Environment Using the Fugacity Approach

In: Environmental Science & Technology, Jg. 39 (2005), S. 3237-3244
Zeitschriftenaufsatz / Fach: Chemie
Through its extensive use as a fuel oxygenate, methyl tart-butyl ether (MTBE) is found nearly ubiquitously throughout the environment. To better understand the environmental fate of MTBE, fugacity models are commonly used. However, models developed by the scientific community and by governmental bodies differ in their predictions of relative MTBE concentrations for relevant environmental compartments and of seasonal concentration variations; further, to date they have not considered the formation of transformation products. In this study, the sensitivity of predicted environmental concentrations of MTBE and its two major degradation products, tert-butyl formate (TBF) and tert-butyl alcohol (TBA), to all types of model input parameters is analyzed in a probabilistic sensitivity analysis. This analysis allowed for an assessment of the most influential parameters for predicting soil, water, and air concentrations and thereby provided insight into why previous modeling studies on MTBE differed. Further, the information from the sensitivity analysis was used to parametrize a multispecies transformation model for predicting European concentration levels of MTBE and, for the first time, TBF and TBA. Water and air concentrations of MTBE predicted with the transformation model were in good agreement with measurements of environmental samples. No studies are available on environmental TBF and TBA levels to compare with model predictions; however, the modeling results indicate that, in the water phase, TBA concentrations may reach appreciable levels. One major uncertainty identified regarding the prediction of TBA levels was the fraction of TBA formed from atmospheric MTBE and TBF.