EU’s REGROUND project has come up with a new eco-friendly innovation to decontaminate polluted underground aquifers.
Securing a clean drinkable water supply has become paramount thanks to the growing concern of water going scarce.
Municipal, agricultural and industrial demand for water keeps growing while water resources are increasingly being degraded and contaminated due to infrastructure erosion and pollution.
Add toxic metals to the mix and you’ll have contaminated groundwater sites, drinking wells or river bank filtration sites. Treating them often requires high financial and technical investment.
EU’s REGROUND project has found a way to combat such issues by developing a low cost nano-geo-technology for the immobilisation of toxic contaminants.
The project applied the groundwater remediation technology at real-scale, with three pilots and two large-scale barriers installed within industrially-polluted sites, observing the reduction in dissolved toxic heavy metal in groundwater.
The project’s barrier method works by injecting the high-tech iron oxide nanoparticles (NPs) into sediments, using simple wells in aquifers.
The NPs travel predetermined distances and then precipitate on the aquifer material, without blocking pores.
The contaminated groundwater then flows through this NP zone, where the dissolved toxic heavy metals are adsorbed to the NPs, with metal-free water then released downstream.
As it is easy to apply and does not require large-infrastructure and soil removal, cleaning costs are significantly reduced.
The approach specifically targets arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury and zinc, all identified as major groundwater contaminants.
To further advance the work more immediately, the project team is now entering the market of groundwater reclamation by creating a spin-off company.
The new company will apply NPs to other contaminations, such as cyanides and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
Image and content: TS Photographer-Shutterstock/REGROUND-Cordis