Nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI) particles have excellent capacity for in situ remediation of groundwater resources contaminated by a range of organic and inorganic contaminants. Chlorinated solvents are by far the most treated compounds. Studies at column, pilot, and field scales have reported successful decrease in contaminant concentration upon injection of nZVI suspensions in the contaminated zones. However, the field application is far from optimized, particularly for treatments at—or close to—the source, in the presence of residual nonaqueous liquid (NAPL). The knowledge gaps surrounding the processes that occur within the pores of the sediments hosting those contaminants at microscale limit our ability to design nanoremediation processes that are optimized at larger scales. This contribution provides a pore-scale picture of the nanoremediation process. Our results reveal how the distribution of the trapped contaminant evolves as a result of contaminant degradation and generation of gaseous products. We have used state-of-the-art four-dimensional (4D) imaging (time-resolved three-dimensional [3D]) experiments to understand the details of this degradation reaction at the micrometer scale. This contribution shows that the gas released (from the reduction reaction) remobilizes the trapped contaminant by overcoming the capillary forces. Our results show that the secondary sources of NAPL contaminations can be effectively treated by nZVI, not only by in situ degradation, but also through pore-scale remobilization (induced by the evolved gas phase). The produced gas reduces the water relative permeability to less than 1% and, therefore, significantly limits the extent of plume migration in the short term.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 2 Jun 2020|