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Establishment of High-Res Predictive 3D Groundwater Nanoremediation Simulations

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - intraView (Establishment of High-Res Predictive 3D Groundwater Nanoremediation Simulations)

Reporting period: 2017-09-01 to 2018-08-31

In situ remediation of groundwater contaminations based on the application of nanoparticles is a new and promising, yet challenging technology. One of the most difficult challenges in this context is the amount and scientific level of modelling of particle migration in the aquifer, which is mainly based on hydraulics, hydrodynamics, interactions between the individual surface charge of the particles and the charge of the sediment or bed rock environment. Commercially available particle tracking tools for established models like ModFlow do not cover these frame conditions, which are required for successful field applications. For each site, and each application, a predictive simulation of the nanoparticle transport and mobility needs to be run.
Only with these simulations, the 3D and site-specific spreading and distribution of the nanoparticles during and after an injection can be calculated and visualized. The generated data can then be used to:

• Optimize the actual injection layout and well drilling for particle application and monitoring purposes
• direct particles to areas not available for conventional remediation technologies
• Convince water regulators of the safety of the nanoparticle application
• Demonstrate the planned remediation measures and their outcomes to customers.

The specific objective is to integrate the modelling tools MNS , nanoremediation-specific add-ons for VisualModflow , and a GIS-Software (like e.g. ARCGis ) into a market-ready modelling solution in our company, which we can use to simulate and plan our customer’s field applications.

By improving the quality of the modelling in remediation projects, multiple benefits can be realized. First, 2D and 3D predictions on hydrology and particle transport will greatly help to target and tailor specific remediation measures like e.g. well drilling, nanoparticle injections, and the installation of monitoring wells. This will in turn help to reduce costs, and thereby generate decisive competitive advantages. And only if we can model the expected nanoparticle movement during injection, a valid surveillance strategy can be implemented. Water authorities will greatly welcome predictive models, as they can assure them of the safety of our nanoremediation applications. High quality 2D and 3D predictive nanoparticle transport models will open a new horizon for our company in terms of cost reductions, application safety, and overall process control.
Step 1. Implementation of all necessary software tools – MNS, Visual ModFlow plus particle transport add-ons, ARCGis - in our company, set-up, and configuration to our remediation projects.
Deliverables: The relocation and employment are done (M01), an interim report on the software implementation is done (M03), a training schedule is arranged and trainings booked and organized (M03).

Step 2. Based on available data from our remediation projects, a full 3D simulation of a nanoparticle injection will be run. Also, the impact of the injection on the local hydrogeology and contaminant behaviour is modelled.
Deliverables: A full predictive 3D simulation for one of our remediation projects will be available (M08).

Step 3. Objectives and description of work. Based on the simulation from WP2, a nanoremediation field application will be designed. Injection geometry and monitoring wells will be positioned and planned as suggested by the simulation. After the injection, field data will be used to recalibrate the model. Deliverables: An interim design report (M10), detailing on how the simulation impacts the field design, a website update (M11), presenting the outcomes of the innovation project, and a final report (M12).


High-resolution 3D modelling for remediation planning purposes is currently hardly available on the market. There are limited 2D approaches, and some 3D approaches for conventional hydrology modelling purposes. Yet nanoparticle transport modelling is not ready for markets until now.
The innovation associate will have a strategic key position in transferring the knowledge from past and current research projects into a market-ready simulation tool-box, designed to specifically meet the demands of the groundwater and soil remediation industry. This tool-box will enable our company to totally modernize our approach to remediation planning: We will be able to simulate injections, the transport and spreading of the nanoparticles, the change in hydrology and contaminant distributions and mobility. This will enable us to tailor our on-site remediation technology to the simulation.

The transformation from conventional “rule-of-thumb” planning to planning based on high-res 3D simulations will be profound. It will open up a whole new level in “high-precision” remediation unseen before, and will unlock the true potential of nano- and in situ remediation. As these technologies will be more targeted, the will become more reliable, more efficient, less costly, and more competitive.
Nanoremediation now opens a completely new approach in the decontamination of groundwater. Nanoremediation is the injection of iron- and other nanoparticles into polluted groundwater, where they form a stable, nano-reactive zone in which the particles react with the contaminant. The advantages of nanoremediation are numerous: the smart stimulation of chemical and biological processes, the possibility of tailor-made and targeted ‘high-precision’ injections, and the sustained, rebound-free reaction (depot effect), which allows for a ‘fire-and-forget’ remediation approach. Therefore, nanoremediation is significantly less expensive than conventional in situ remediation methods, decidedly more effective in the removal of contaminants, and easier to apply because of its sustained remediation effect. Nanoremediation has the potential to become the key groundwater remediation technology.

With the SME research associate joining INTRAPORE during intraView, our company will achieve the key modelling skills needed to address the outlined business opportunities above on the European and international markets. If successful, the innovation associate will generate key capabilities to our company: INTRAPORE will be able to simulate and visualize nanoparticle transport during its field applications. In combination with GIS tools, we will experience a new level of resolution, predictive power, visualization, and reliability with the new modelling tools. We will be able to simulate our injections, optimize our designs, plan, and convince in a flexible and customer-friendly way which has been unseen before. Truly the whole potential of groundwater nanoremediation can be delivered to the markets when questions like e.g. ‘Where do the particles move?’, ‘Do they spread far enough during injection?’, ‘Are they under control?’ can be answered before any field measures.The successful implementation of market-application-ready modelling can then be key to transforming our company to a real hi-tech enterprise.
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