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Environmental Protection Agency BIOPLUME III Overview  

BIOPLUME III is a numerical two-dimensional (2D) model that tracks the fate and transport of aromatic hydrocarbons. The user inputs 2D contour maps of hydrologic parameters such as hydraulic head and hydraulic conductivity using a digitizing tool. Maps of initial concentrations of petroleum constituents and electron acceptors are input in the same manner. The model then calculates concentration contours at user-specified time intervals, using either an "instantaneous reaction" model based on stoichiometry, or a first-order kinetic model.


  • Numerical Modeling
  • Visualization
  • Remedial Process Selection
  • Input
  • Tabular File: NA
  • Graphical File: *.bmp
  • Output
    • Tabular File: *.csv, *txt
    • Graphical File: *.bmp, *.avi
    • Print Report: Yes
    • Petroleum
    • Groundwater
    Technical Team Members
    • Hydrogeologist
    • General technical staff familiar with chemical fate and transport
    BIOPLUME III- data loading
    • Model input values are entered manually and digitized within the program.
    BIOPLUME III - graphic loading
    • Base maps can be loaded to the model in a bitmap (bmp) file format in the Domain menu (Domain:Base Image).
    BIOPLUME III - logical flow
    • Menus along the top of screen are arranged to follow logical flow from left to right. Some buttons are grayed out until the user completes the necessary precursor steps.
    BIOPLUME III - expert knowledge
    • Site-specific data should be used whenever possible to estimate model parameters so that the model is representative of potential site conditions. Although site-specific data are always preferred, "typical" ranges of many of the input parameters are provided in Appendix I of the manual. The selection of "typical" parameters should be reviewed by the appropriate expert (hydrogeologist, chemist, or environmental engineer).
    • The user should have some experience in reading and understanding numerical model output files, such as are commonly used in FORTRAN-based groundwater flow and transport models. Model output files should be analyzed after significant changes have been made or whenever the model results require troubleshooting.
    • A sensitivity analysis should be conducted to evaluate the sensitivity of model results to the input parameters, particularly when "typical" values are used rather than parameters estimated from site-specific field data. Sensitivity analysis is discussed in Section 4.3.2 of the manual.
    BIOPLUME III - functionality
    • The graphical user interface includes tools to digitize and contour head and concentration distributions, which facilitate data input.
    • The user can animate the model results by clicking "AVI animation" under the Results menu to produce a video clip. The video clip is composed of the graphical representation of the plume or the piezometric surface at the end of each time step of a transient model run. The video clip can be shared with any stakeholders; Windows MediaPlayer or similar software is required to view the clip.
    • The user must print the model report (File:Report) to troubleshoot or analyze model results. The model report may consist of 50 to 100 pages of output, so the computer should be connected to a printer. Output files are similar in format to raw Method of Characteristics (MOC) files.
    • Complex scenarios will cause BIOPLUME III to crash. User experience suggests that a large grid (more than 50 rows by 50 columns) or a model with more than 10 to 15 pumping wells may crash the model run.
    • A new version of BIOPLUME (BIOPLUME IV) is in beta-testing and should be available soon. The new version is reported to accept a 100 x 100 grid without crashing.
    • Error messages are unclear to general technical staff and may require a trained FORTRAN programmer to decipher them.
    BIOPLUME III - technical application
    • BIOPLUME III is well-suited to model remediation scenarios that involve monitored natural attenuation (MNA) and pump-and-treat, with associated components such as source removal, injection of oxygenated water, or infiltration of oxygenated water. It is not well-suited to accurately represent the effects of air sparging.
    • Although BIOPLUME III appears to be designed primarily for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) plumes (all discussions in the manual of specific contaminants refer to BTEX constituents), it has been successfully applied to chlorinated solvent sites (EPA 2001).
    • BIOPLUME is generally used to predict changes to chemical concentratrions and hydraulic heads assuming simplified aquifer geometry, stresses and boundary conditions. Detailed hydrogeological studies require the calibration of a flow model using a high resolution, three-dimensional model such as MODFLOW or FEMWATER.
    BIOPLUME III - documentation
    • Users manual has clear layout, including sections on "Getting Started/Tutorial," "Theoretical Development," "User's Guide," and several appendices.
    • Appendices provide useful information that should be reviewed before BIOPLUME III is used. Appendix I provides information on input data parameters. Appendix II discusses how to interpret output files. The user will need to refer to these appendices for help in interpreting and troubleshooting model results.
    • Appendix A provides detailed information on the Method of Characteristics (MOC) particle tracking code that BIOPLUME III is built around.
    • Appendix B is a concise discussion of the U.S. Air Force intrinsic remediation (natural attenuation) protocol and describes implementation of BIOPLUME III in the broader context of a natural attenuation study.
    • There are no Help menus.
    BIOPLUME III - output
    • Some graphics can be exported in a bitmap (bmp) format from the Results menu after a model run, specifically the head distribution and any concentration distribution. The user clicks on the Bitmap Capture button in the lower left of the toolbox to save the image to a bitmap. Output cannot be saved to a vector format.
    • Model-estimated values of concentration or hydraulic head can be exported using the Spyglass tool in the upper left-hand corner of the Results toolbox (the toolbox that is active when the user is in the Results menu). The user can delineate an area of the grid to export results by clicking the tool and then dragging the cursor over the grid.
    BIOPLUME III - sources
    • Version 1.0 (September 1997) downloaded December 14, 2004.
    • Users Manual (EPA/600/R-98/010).
    • EPA. 2001. Evaluation of the Protocol for Natural Attenuation of Chlorinated Solvents: Case Study at the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant. EPA Office of Research and Development. EPA/600/R-01/025. March
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