Development of nanometals for source zone remediation

Funding Details
Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • Grant type: Strategic Projects - Group
  • Year: 2010/11
  • Total Funding: $120,310
Principle Investigator(s)

Project Summary

Environment Canada estimates that 29% of the population consumes groundwater as their domestic water so protection of this resource is essential to the health and well-being of Canadians. Historically, the subsurface was thought to act as a natural filter of wastes injected into the ground. The potential for these wastes to persist in the subsurface for decades, potentially contaminating drinking water sources was ignored. Non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs), such as perchlorethlyene and dichloroethane, are one class of waste liquids that were subject to improper disposal practices. These liquids are extremely difficult to remove from subsurface aquifers and are the focus of this proposal. Nanometals are one promising innovative groundwater remediation technology that convert these contaminants into less toxic or nontoxic materials. They are particularly useful because of their size - a single human hair is 500 to 5,000 times as wide. At that scale, they can move through microscopic flow channels in soil and rock, reaching and destroying groundwater pollutants that larger particles cannot. In this study reactive nanometals will be developed to degrade subsurface NAPL source zones. This project will support 7 graduate students and 2 postdoctoral fellows to conduct an integrated reactive nanometal synthesis, characteri- zation, reactivity and mobility research program. Although nanoparticles may represent a novel approach for the remediation of subsurface contaminated sites significant research is still necessary to significantly develop this technology. This study will provide invaluable information regarding nanometal mobility in the subsurface and develop a new remediation technology that is urgently needed to ensure a clean and abundant source of drinking water for Canadians for generations to come.