Scaling-up experiments of smouldering combustion as a remediation technology for contaminated soil

Christine Switzer, Paolo Pironi, Guillermo Rein, Jason I. Gerhard, Jose L. Torero

Research output: Contribution to conferencePoster

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Self-sustaining Treatment for Active Remediation (STAR) is a novel, patent-pending process that uses smouldering combustion as a remediation technology for land contaminated with hazardous organic liquids. Compounds such as chlorinated solvents, coal tar and petroleum products, called Non-Aqueous Phase Liquids (NAPLs) for their low miscibility with water, have a long history of use in the industrialised world and are among the most ubiquitous of contaminants worldwide. These contaminants are toxic and many are suspected or known carcinogens. Existing remediation technologies are expensive and ineffective at reducing NAPL source zones sufficiently to restore affected water resources to appropriate quality levels. STAR introduces a self-sustaining smouldering reaction within the NAPL pool in the subsurface and allows that reaction to provide all of the post-ignition energy required by the reaction to completely remediate the NAPL source zone in the soil. Results from laboratory and field experiments have been very promising. Laboratory experiments have demonstrated STAR across a wide range of NAPL fuels and focused on coal tar to identify key parameters for successful remediation. Modelling has suggested that STAR efficiency will improve with scale as effects such as heat losses from boundaries become less significant. Observations from field experiments support the modelling theory - significantly lower relative air flow in a smouldering field experiment (330L) led to faster smouldering front propagation than observed in laboratory experiments (1L and 3L). Preliminary emissions monitoring by Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy has suggested that STAR emissions might be low enough to meet regulatory requirements, but further study is necessary. As emissions are expected to vary with each contaminant, activated carbon filters are being developed and tested in case emissions filtration is necessary. Experiments at all scales have demonstrated that STAR is controllable and self-terminating. Pilot-scale (2500L) field trials are underway to demonstrate STAR on excavated contaminated soil. The materials that will be studied in these trials are manufactured coal tar in coarse sand (which is the same material as used in the laboratory and field experiments) as well as two soils obtained from coal tar contaminated sites. This poster focuses on the scale-up to these field trials, including small scale characterisation, large scale performance, emissions monitoring and post-treatment soil analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Event9th Annual International Association of Fire Safety Science - Karlsruhe, Germany
Duration: 21 Sept 200826 Sept 2008


Conference9th Annual International Association of Fire Safety Science
CityKarlsruhe, Germany


  • smouldering combustion
  • remediation technology
  • contaminated soil
  • civil engineering


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