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 What are the potential and the limits of the empirical approach?


On the basis of experimental analysis (in batch or even in columns), the empirical approach consists in establishing empirical relationships that are able to describe, in particular, delaying factors. In this case, evaluation of the contamination potential is only valid for the conditions of the experiment.
This type of approach poses a problem when it comes to extrapolating the experimental results to other scales, different scenarios, and longer timeframes. Its only advantage is its ease of implementation.


 What are the potential and the limits of the mechanistic approach?


The mechanistic approach consists in forecasting the transformation of the "waste system" (source term of the pollutants) through geochemical models. It requires a precise analysis of the mineral phases present in the source (nature, quantity, possibly crystallinity) and knowledge of the solubility product of these phases. It also requires experimentation (batch and/or column) in order to design then validate the geochemical model.
This approach has the considerable advantage of being independent of experimental conditions (the solubility products are the intrinsic parameters of the minerals) and that it can be adapted to different scales of space and time according to the planned scenarios. For a given scenario, it is possible to take into account sorption phenomena that can control the concentrations of certain pollutants.




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