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Combined membrane separation and electrokinetics speeds soil remediation

By Paul Grad |

Toxic heavy metals can be drawn out of soils far more quickly than the traditional methods using a process developed by a team from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU; Lyngby; www.dtu.dk) and the Universidad Técnica Federico Santa María (Valparaíso, Chile; www.usm.cl). Conventional electrokinetic methods apply a strong d.c. electric field to cause ions of heavy metals, such as cadmium, copper, zinc, lead and chromium, to migrate through the soil. However, this process can take months to achieve adequate cleanup. The team combined traditional electrokinetic soil remediation with conventional electrodialysis, resulting in a faster and more thorough way of cleaning soils contaminated with heavy metals. DTU’s team member Lisbeth Ottosen explains that, in the new setup, soil is treated in suspension, and ion exchange membranes separate the soil suspension and the processing solutions at the electrodes. The addition of ion exchange membranes ensures the main direction for the electromigration within the contaminated soil is out of the soil. Laboratory experiments were conducted in cylindrical PMMA (polymethyl methacrylate) partitioned into a central compartment and two electrode compartments. An anion exchange…
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