Remediation R&D Service
Service and technology innovation is a cornerstone of our business. Beyond providing traditional services to local markets, we have introduced advances in soil and groundwater remediation that have become standard-setting in the field of environmental engineering and remediation.
Select Technology Advances
- Our personnel worked with the American Petroleum Institute to prepare the first U.S. demonstration of monitored natural attenuation (MNA), forming the basis for the U.S. EPA Guidance on Use of Natural Attenuation at RCRA Sites. This pioneering work now forms the backbone of petroleum MNA groundwater remedies worldwide.
- Working with the U.S. Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment, Solutions-IES designed, developed, proved and patented the innovative use of edible, emulsified oils to bioremediate contaminant plumes. Solutions-IES' first success for the U.S. Department of Defense was using this technology for chlorinated solvents. Our approach serves as the foundation of anaerobic bioremediation for industry practitioners globally.
- Solutions-IES expanded the suite of contaminants that could be remediated by edible oil emulsion technology to include energetics (e.g., perchlorate and RDX). Pilot studies funded by the U.S. Department of Defense's Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) have proven the technology's effectiveness as a permeable reactive barrier and source-area treatment. Solutions-IES demonstrated the longevity of this substrate in situ, and we developed a buffered product to address the important issue of pH effects on bioactivity.
- Solutions-IES developed and authored a Protocol Report: 'Natural Attenuation of Perchlorate in Groundwater.' This ESTCP-funded report is applicable to military, industrial and commercial installations worldwide. It provides guidance for implementing a low-cost groundwater remedy for this contaminant of growing concern.
Solutions-IES developed the emulsified edible oil (EOS) technology to meet the objectives of the Air Force Center for Engineering and the Environment (AFCEE). These objectives called for: 1) an inexpensive, long-lasting, biodegradable organic substrate that would enhance in situ anaerobic bioremediation of chlorinated solvents; 2) a formulation that could be handled safely and easily distributed throughout the subsurface. Solutions-IES engineers designed, installed and monitored large-scale tests at DoD-related installations in North Carolina, Delaware, Oklahoma, California, Tennessee, Maryland and South Carolina to demonstrate the effectiveness of this technology. We subsequently patented the use of emulsified oils for aquifer bioremediation.
In countless subsequent applications, the EOS technology has proven effective both in permeable reactive barrier and source area treatment designs. Injected through temporary wells or directly into the ground, the EOS® emulsion spreads readily throughout the impacted zone, promoting contact between contaminants, substrate and bacteria. Conditions favorable for anaerobic biodegradation are quickly established resulting in rapid biodegradation of the target contaminants with long-lasting effectiveness.
Our experience with technology allows us to recognize industry-wide problems and design effective solutions. We continue to test new ideas for improved performance. For example, Solutions-IES conducted research and development to design a long-lasting buffered emulsified oil product that is injected into the aquifer to raise pH and enhance or restart biodegradation. Solutions-IES provides on-going consulting services to the industry that make groundwater bioremediation projects more cost-effective and successful.
Solutions-IES has expanded the applicability of the emulsified oil substrate technology to new contaminants, including perchlorate. Based on laboratory studies that confirmed its feasibility, Solutions-IES tested the technology for the Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP) at a DoD-related site in Maryland. The demonstration illustrated the power of the process for in situ biotreatment of perchlorate and the relative cost-effectiveness of using EOS® as a permeable reactive barrier to intercept the downgradient migration of perchlorate. The demonstration also provided definitive evidence for the extended life of the formulation in the aquifer. In addition, the demonstration provided information regarding contact time between substrate, bacteria and contaminant to achieve regulatory goals. This understanding has proven useful to many in situ technologies.
Solutions-IES was also asked to evaluate the potential for MNA of perchlorate in groundwater. With funding by ESTCP and cooperation by the same Maryland site owner and the Maryland Department of the Environment, Solutions-IES developed an approach to evaluate historical and new biogeochemical data from the site to determine whether perchlorate MNA could protect human health and the environment. We determined that bioattenuation and biodegradation activity were present using a set of novel field and laboratory tools, including in situ columns and molecular biology tools.
Solutions-IES personnel have long been involved in proving the effectiveness of MNA of groundwater contamination. From early work performed in conjunction with the American Petroleum Institute on MNA of petroleum hydrocarbons, Solutions-IES continues to be a contributor to the industry. Solutions-IES personnel authored the first MNA Corrective Action Plan (CAP) in North Carolina and later received approval for the first MNA CAP in the state based on natural attenuation of chlorinated solvents by abiotic processes.
Based on Solutions-IES experience, we were asked by ESTCP to develop a protocol for proving the potential for MNA of perchlorate, an emerging DoD contaminant concern. Solutions-IES took a three-tiered approach to demonstrate the effectiveness of the remedy at two sites. In Tier 1, we examined plume stability and bioattenuation from the well network. Tier 2 looked for biogeochemical lines of evidence that would support natural attenuation. In Tier 3, Solutions-IES used innovative techniques such as in situ columns, macrocosms and MBTs to show biodegradation was occurring.
Solutions-IES authored a guidance document titled 'Natural Attenuation of Perchlorate in Groundwater: Processes, Tools and Monitoring Techniques' (ESTCP, 2008). The publication of this protocol has resulted in significant remediation cost reductions for many military and commercial installations worldwide.