Groundwater Remediation Technologies Analysis Center

Electrokinetics - Technology Overview


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Electrokinetics separates and extracts contaminants from saturated or unsaturated soils, sludges and sediments, and groundwater. The goal of electrokinetic remediation is to effect the migration of subsurface contaminants in an imposed electric field via electroosmosis, electromigration and/or electrophoresis. These phenomena occur when the soil is electrically charged with a low voltage current. The fundamental configuration for all three processes involves the application of an electrical potential between electrode pairs that have been implanted in the ground on each side of a contaminated soil mass. The technology was developed largely to address contaminants present in low permeability soils. Prior to implementation of electrokinetic remediation at a site, several tests must be conducted, and data analyzed to determine if the site is amenable to the technology.

Advantages to the technology include its applicability to low permeability soils, as well as its potential applicability to a broad range of contaminants. Precipitation of metals close to the cathode has been the biggest impediment to the process apply.

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