Volumetric scale-up of smouldering remediation of contaminated materials

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Citations (Scopus)
181 Downloads (Pure)


Smouldering remediation is a process that has been introduced recently to address non-aqueous phase liquid (NAPL) contamination in soils and other porous media. Previous work demonstrated this process to be highly effective across a wide range of contaminants and soil conditions at the bench scale. In this work, a suite of 12 experiments explored the effectiveness of the process as operating scale was increased 1000-fold from the bench (0.003 m3 ) to intermediate (0.3 m3 ) and pilot field-scale (3 m3 ) with coal tar and petrochemical NAPLs. As scale increased, remediation efficiency of 97–99.95% was maintained. Smoul- dering propagation velocities of 0.6–14 × 10−5 m/s at Darcy air fluxes of 1.54–9.15 cm/s were consistent with observations in previous bench studies, as was the dependence on air flux. The pilot field-scale experiments demonstrated the robustness of the process despite heterogeneities, localised operation, controllability through airflow supply, and the importance of a minimum air flux for self-sustainability. Experiments at the intermediate scale established a minimum-observed, not minimum-possible, initial concentration of 12,000mg/kg in mixed oil waste, providing support for the expectation that lower thresholds for self-sustaining smouldering decreased with increasing scale. Once the threshold was exceeded, basic process characteristics of average peak temperature, destructive efficiency, and treatment velocity were relatively independent of scale.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-60
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Hazardous Materials
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2014


  • contaminant remediation
  • coal tar
  • petrochemical
  • process scale-up
  • smouldering combustion


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