Remediating Groundwater Contamination with Nanotechnology

The NanoRem Bulletin recently published a bulletin describing a pilot study to evaluate the nanoscale zerovalent iron (nZVI) remediation of arsenic (As) in groundwater.  It was undertaken as part of the NanoRem Project (Taking Nanotechnological Remediation Processes from Lab Scale to End User Applications for the Restoration of a Clean Environment), which was funded through theEuropean Union Seventh Framework Programme.

The pilot project was undertaken at the Nitrastur site in Asturias, Spain which is characterised by high concentrations of As in both soil and groundwater.  The goal of the study was to determine if NZVI could be used for in situ remediation applications for treating arsenic contamination in groundwater.

The pilot study presented an opportunity for testing the application of nanoparticles (NPs) in real site conditions, focusing on the treatment of dissolved As in groundwater.  In order to be able to evaluate the performance of the field application, three objectives were set as part of the injection and monitoring plan:

Objective 1: To determine the effectiveness of arsenic nanoremediation;

Objective 2: To determine the temporal and spatial dispersion of nZVI; and

Objective 3: To assess the potential risks associated with nZVI injection and changing groundwater geochemical conditions.

The results of the pilot study were encouraging, although further study was recommended before commercial application of the technology.

The NanoRem project (2013-2017) focused on facilitating practical, safe, economic and exploitable nanotechnology for in situ remediation.  This was undertaken in parallel with developing a comprehensive understanding of the environmental risk-benefit, market demand, overall sustainability, and stakeholder perceptions of the use of nanoparticles (NPs). Twelve NanoRem Bulletins have been created to transfer the knowledge developed within NanoRem to end-users.

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