Nanoscale zero-valent iron flakes for groundwater treatment

R. Köber, H. Hollert, G. Hornbruch, M. Jekel, A. Kamptner, N. Klaas, H. Maes, K.-M. Mangold, E. Martac, A. Matheis, H. Paar, A. Schäffer, H. Schell, A. Schiwy, K. R. Schmidt, T. J. Strutz, S. Thümmler, A. Tiehm, J. Braun

Environmental Earth Science, 2014, 72, 3339-3352 doi: 10.​1007/​s12665-016-5485-9


Even today the remediation of organic contaminant source zones poses significant technical and economic challenges. Nanoscale zero-valent iron (NZVI) injections have proved to be a promising approach especially for source zone treatment. We present the development and the characterization of a new kind of NZVI with several advantages on the basis of laboratory experiments, model simulations and a field test. The developed NZVI particles are manufactured by milling, consist of 85 % Fe(0) and exhibit a flake-like shape with a thickness of <100 nm. The mass normalized perchloroethylene (PCE) dechlorination rate constant was 4.1 × 10−3 L/g h compared to 4.0 × 10−4 L/g h for a commercially available reference product. A transport distance of at least 190 cm in quartz sand with a grain size of 0.2–0.8 mm and Fe(0) concentrations between 6 and 160 g/kg (sand) were achieved without significant indications of clogging. The particles showed only a low acute toxicity and had no longterm inhibitory effects on dechlorinating microorganisms. During a field test 280 kg of the iron flakes was injected to a depth of 10–12 m into quaternary sand layers with hydraulic conductivities ranging between 10−4 and 10−5 m/s. Fe(0) concentrations of 1 g/kg (sand) or more [up to 100 g/kg (sand)] were achieved in 80 % of the targeted area. The iron flakes have so far remained reactive for more than 1 year and caused a PCE concentration decrease from 20.000–30.000 to 100–200 µg/L. Integration of particle transport processes into the OpenGeoSys model code proved suitable for site-specific 3D prediction and optimization of iron flake injections.


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