Pilot Test of Bioremediation via Hydraulic Fracturing of Clay Till In Denmark

A topographic survey design was used to measure ground heave and radius of influence during hydraulic fracturing to emplace bioactive fractures for stimulating in situ dechlorination of chlorinated solvents in low-permeability clay till. A topographic survey design was used to measure ground heave and radius of influence during hydraulic fracturing to emplace bioactive fractures for stimulating in situ dechlorination of chlorinated solvents in low-permeability clay till.

Until recently, biological in situ enhanced reductive dechlorination (ERD) was not a proven or validated technology in Denmark. Chlorinated solvents in groundwater are recognized as a widespread problem throughout the country, and the Danish government has funded a significant body of research to develop technologies for restoration of impacted groundwater impacted. For the former Funen County (now the Region of Southern Denmark) and the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, the team of Geosyntec, COWI A/S, and the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) developed a scoring protocol for determining the suitability of a given chlorinated solvent-contaminated site for treatment by ERD.

Geosyntec Scope of Services

The project team developed a rigorous ERD pilot test design that involved injection of electron donor and Dehalococcoides bacteria (KB-1®) into two sand fractures hydraulically emplaced within clayey till. The till had been impacted with residual cis-1,2-dichloroethene (cDCE) and vinyl chloride (VC), two trichloroethene (TCE) daughter products from a historical release. The ERD design goal was to establish dechlorinating bioactive zones within the sand fractures, and to facilitate mass transfer (desorption) of cDCE and VC from the clay into the fractures. To distinguish the two fractures in soil cores, the team used a red sand for the shallow fracture, and a green sand for the deeper fracture. The fracturing radius of influence (ROI) was assessed initially via a topographic survey and more intensively through soil coring. Small diameter wells were installed across the emplaced fractures to provide monitoring points for the ERD test.

Geosyntec led the design of the ERD system electron donor (emulsified soybean oil and lactate [ESO]) and bioaugmentation dosing, contributing significantly to the data analysis. The test results showed that cDCE and VC in the fractures were completely dechlorinated to innocuous products within five months of ESO and KB-1® injection. Results also showed that a bioactive zone was established that successfully enhanced mass transfer and treatment of cDCE and VC in the clay.

Notable Accomplishments

This project that Geosyntec helped design and lead represents the first rigorous demonstration of ERD in low- permeability clay ever reported in peer-reviewed literature. The successful results offer promise for remediation in Denmark and many other locations where chlorinated solvent contamination often occurs in clay till. The high- quality experimental approach and data generated in this project were described in a journal article in Environmental Science and Technology that was co-authored by Geosyntec (see: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es1003044).

Project Overview

  • Location: Rugårdsvej 234, Odense, Denmark
  • Client: COWI A/S and the Danish Technical University
  • Project Practice Areas: Water and Wastewater System Planning, Engineering, and Design
  • Type of Facility: Manufacturing facility
  • Services Provided: ERD design, Bioaugmentation design, Performance monitoring data analysis Regulatory negotiation support, ERD program strategy, Academic journal article publishing
  • Type of Work: Hydraulic fracturing
  • Company: Geosyntec Consultants
Geosyntec Consultants
Geosyntec is a specialized consulting and engineering firm that works with private and public sector clients to address new ventures and complex problems involving our environment, natural resources, and civil infrastructure.

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