Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Washing out soil contaminants

Israeli scientists created a novel technique for reversing damage done to soils that have been exposed to high levels of pollution.
Washing out soil contaminants
Soil can be contaminated by a number of different sources, including buried fuel tanks, pesticides, even settling of atmospheric pollutants on the topsoil. Once polluted, soil is extremely hard to clean and must often be removed or otherwise isolated from the surrounding environment.

Researchers from a university in Israel have developed a radically different approach that cleanses the polluted soil without moving it. A soil washing procedure forces the unwanted compounds into the liquid phase. The wastewater is then easily separated out, leaving clean soil behind.

The major advantage of the Israeli process is that the chemicals used to bind the pollutants are safe for the environment. Hence, following treatment, the wastewater can be released freely to the environment without further risk. This, in combination with the fact that the required equipment is lightweight, means the process is very portable.

Furthermore, the technique is particularly applicable to weakly conducting soils like clays, which do not lend themselves to other remediation methods such as bioremediation. This is especially important in the case of contamination with hydrocarbons (e.g., benzene), which are, for the most part, hydrophobic.

The Israeli university group is looking for an industrial partner to help them transform their prototype into a marketable product.
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