Dec 30, 2010

University of Nebraska Team Tests Experimental Groundwater Treatment

New method used to treat TCE-contaminated groundwater at abandoned landfill

A University of Nebraska-Lincoln chemist and his students developed an experimental method for treating contaminated groundwater at a Nebraska landfill, the Lincoln Journal Star reported.

Steve Comfort, a soil environmental chemist at the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and several of his graduate and undergraduate students, created the method to treat groundwater at a landfill near Cozad, Neb., for trichloroethylene (TCE), a toxic chemical that was once used as a solvent and degreaser.

Normally, TCE in groundwater is treated by injecting the groundwater with liquid-based permanganate, which oxidizes the chemical into chloride and carbon dioxide. Heavy clay soils and a tightly confined aquifer made this method unfeasible, however.

Graduate student Mark Christianson solved the issue by making chemical oxidant candles from paraffin wax and granular permanganate. The team used wells and a direct-push probing machine to place the candles in the ground, where they will mix with the groundwater and dissolve over time.

The candles were placed just a few weeks ago, so the Comfort and his students are still waiting to find their full effect, but Christianson said that results have been good so far.