Smoldering remediation of coal-tar-contaminated soil : pilot field tests of STAR

Scholes, Grant C. and Gerhard, Jason I. and Grant, Gavin P. and Major, David W. and Vidumsky, John E. and Switzer, Christine and Torero, Jose L. (2015) Smoldering remediation of coal-tar-contaminated soil : pilot field tests of STAR. Environmental Science and Technology, 49 (24). pp. 14334-14342. ISSN 0013-936X (

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Self-sustaining treatment for active remediation (STAR) is an emerging, smoldering-based technology for nonaqueous-phase liquid (NAPL) remediation. This work presents the first in situ field evaluation of STAR. Pilot field tests were performed at 3.0 m (shallow test) and 7.9 m (deep test) below ground surface within distinct lithological units contaminated with coal tar at a former industrial facility. Self-sustained smoldering (i.e., after the in-well ignition heater was terminated) was demonstrated below the water table for the first time. The outward propagation of a NAPL smoldering front was mapped, and the NAPL destruction rate was quantified in real time. A total of 3700 kg of coal tar over 12 days in the shallow test and 860 kg over 11 days in the deep test was destroyed; less than 2% of total mass removed was volatilized. Self-sustaining propagation was relatively uniform radially outward in the deep test, achieving a radius of influence of 3.7 m; strong permeability contrasts and installed barriers influenced the front propagation geometry in the shallow test. Reductions in soil hydrocarbon concentrations of 99.3% and 97.3% were achieved in the shallow and deep tests, respectively. Overall, this provides the first field evaluation of STAR and demonstrates that it is effective in situ and under a variety of conditions and provides the information necessary for designing the full-scale site treatment.