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 Thermal Remediation



Image: Thermal Remediation
Thermal Remediation

Thermal remediation is the technology that makes use of steam injection and possibly electrical resistance heating. The energy that is injected into the subsurface mobilizes volatile and semi-volatile organic contaminants so that they are easy to remove. Then contaminants, groundwater, and vapors are pumped out and treated or sent off site for disposal.

In situ thermal remediation is the injection of energy into the subsurface to mobilize and recover volatile and semi-volatile organic contaminants. Steam-enhanced extraction, electrical-resistance heating, and thermal-conductive heating (which were first developed for enhanced oil recovery) are now commonly used to remediate contaminants from source zones.

These robust technologies have been applied to a wide variety of contaminant types and in a wide variety of hydrogeologic conditions. When applied aggressively, these technologies are capable of reducing residual contamination to very low levels; the contamination is then degraded by natural attenuation processes.

EPA research has helped to understand how the addition of heat to the subsurface affects the physical properties of organic liquids in porous media, the levels of residual contamination that will remain after thermal treatment, and the in situ reactions that may occur under thermal remediation conditions. EPA also offers extensive technical support for site-specific applications of these technologies.

References and Products

Costanza, J., J. Mulholland, K. Pennell, and E. Davis. Effects of Thermal Treatments on the Chemical Reactivity of Trichloroethylene (EPA/600/R-07/091) August 2007 - Abstract

Davis, E. Steam Injection for Soil and Aquifer Remediation – Ground Water Issue (PDF) (16 pp, 648 KB) (EPA/540/S-97/505) January 1998

Davis, E. How Heat Can Enhance In Situ Soil and Aquifer Remediation: Important Chemical Properties and Guidance on Choosing the Appropriate Technique – Ground Water Issue (PDF) (18 pp, 92 KB) (EPA/540/S-97/502) April 1997


Eva Davis
Acting Branch Chief

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