According to a study conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency, there are currently thousands of sites across the United States that are contaminated by the releases of chemicals, toxins and other disruptive sources. They are often created by some type of industry activity or the improper disposal of waste. These sites don’t just pose a threat to the larger environment – they also detract from human health and well-being, disrupt the local ecosystem and limit the ways in which these areas can be used.
Thankfully, soil remediation has proven to be an effective method for addressing these challenges head on. Sometimes referred to as soil washing, this is a process that is intended to remove things like petroleum and fuel residues, heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants from affected areas. There are four main types of soil remediation that may be used to remove contaminants from the ground.
One of the most prominent types of soil remediation is called bioremediation, which involves the treatment of affected soil by biological means. Experts use aerobic and anaerobic bacterium to consume and break down the pollutants in the soil, essentially cleaning up the area through the most natural means possible. Once all of the contaminants in the area have been consumed, the bacterium die off – another one of the distinct advantages of this technique.
Thermal Soil Remediation
Another popular type of soil remediation is called thermal soil remediation. This involves the process of heating the contaminated material to the point where it evaporates, effectively eliminating impurities in both soil and water. If you’ve ever heated tap water in a pan on your stove before cooking with it, you’ve essentially gone through a simplified version of this same concept.
With thermal soil remediation, polluted materials are typically treated at temperatures that range from 650 degrees all the way up to 900 degrees. They are then discharged into a cooling unit and recycled back into the affected area.
Air sparging is a type of soil remediation where large volumes of air are injected into contaminated soil to “force out” the problem materials in the form of organic vapors, which are then more thoroughly treated via carbon filtering. While this is an effective method, the actual amount of time it will require will vary depending on a number of factors like how concentrated the contaminated area really is, the pH factor of the soil, the permeability of the soil and more.
Encapsulation is a unique form of soil remediation because unlike the others, it doesn’t actually “filter” contaminants from soil. Instead, it separates them. Mixing polluted soil with materials like lime, cement and concrete, for example, can prevent those contaminants from further spreading to clean soil. This is a great way to take an existing problem and prevent it from getting worse, but it does admittedly impede the process of using that soil for cultivation at any point in the future.
The actual type of soil remediation used will typically vary depending on the specifics of the situation. For some contaminated sites, bioremediation or thermal remediation may be a perfect option. For others, only encapsulation will do. Regardless, these are just a few of the techniques that companies all over the country are using to keep our environments safe and protect our delicate ecosystems.
At Baker Furnace, we design and manufacture a variety of pollution control equipment including thermal soil remediation systems. Our soil remediation systems are proven to treat contaminated soil and remove pollutants. In addition to pollution control equipment, we also manufacture industrial ovens, heat treat furnaces and other heat-treating equipment.
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