Akram N. Alshawabkeh, Project Leader, Northeastern University
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The US EPA supports the adoption of green remediation, which considers all environmental effects and incorporates strategies to maximize the net environmental benefit. Our long-term goal is to develop a green remediation based on conversion of solar energy into electrolysis in groundwater. Electrolysis will cause chemical reduction of contaminants, including chlorinated solvents in groundwater. The process is suited for karstic groundwater aquifers because the dynamic flow conditions in channels and fractures require controlled rates of electrolysis. The process will use solar energy and will not produce adverse effects on groundwater environment. The project will evaluate the effect of electrolysis on groundwater geochemistry, demonstrate the transformation of trichloroethylene (TCE) as a model nonpolar organic contaminant in groundwater in batch and flow conditions, evaluate the effects of polarity reversal and voltage/current intensity, develop a predictive tool “model” for transformation, evaluate the effects on the physical properties of the aquifer, assess the cytotoxicity of treated water, and evaluate any adverse effects on the fate of other contaminants (e.g., semi-polar organics such as phthalates). A model that couples Faraday’s law for electrolysis and reactive flow will be developed and verified. The project will assess power requirement and engineer a strategy that utilizes solar panels for field implementation.