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Soil Vapor Extraction

What is Soil Vapor Extraction?
Soil Vapor Extraction, often referred to as SVE, is a proven and efficient method used to remove volatile contaminants from the soil. This process is often used as part of a larger environmental clean-up strategy when harmful substances like petroleum products, dry cleaning solvents, or other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) have been spilled or leaked into the soil. Think of SVE as a big vacuum cleaner, but for the soil. Here's how it works: First, a series of wells are drilled into the ground around the area where the spill occurred. These wells are then connected to a powerful vacuum system which applies a negative pressure, or suction force. This causes the volatile compounds in the polluted soil to vaporize - in other words, to turn into gas.

The vacuum then pulls this gas up and out of the soil, through the wells and into a treatment system. This system cleans the gas by separating out the harmful contaminants. The clean gas can then be safely released into the air. So in essence, Soil Vapor Extraction is an important technique employed by environmental engineers to ensure pollutants do not continue their damage by seeping deeper into the ground or contaminating nearby groundwater, keeping the environment safe and sustainable.

SVE and History
One of the most notable examples of a large-scale environmental disaster requiring soil vapor extraction is the Exxon Valdez oil spill that occurred in Prince William Sound, Alaska, on March 24, 1989. This catastrophe became a focal point of global news coverage due to the nature of the infraction and its widespread impact on the environment.

The Exxon Valdez was an oil tanker that ran aground on Bligh Reef, spilling an estimated 10.8 million gallons of crude oil into the pristine Alaskan waters. This spill covered 11,000 square miles of ocean, equivalent to roughly 17,000 football fields, and impacted more than 1,300 miles of coastline. The recovery and remediation efforts by Exxon were extensive and long-lasting, costing over $2 billion. Soil vapor extraction was one of the techniques used in these efforts to clean up the oil-soaked grounds, especially in areas inaccessible for manual cleaning.

This event garnered widespread media attention. Major newspapers and television news networks such as The New York Times, CNN, and BBC extensively reported on the spill, its aftermath, and the recovery efforts. However, even with such efforts, the Exxon Valdez oil spill's damage was significant, both to the environment and wildlife. It served as a wake-up call, sparking changes in oil transportation regulations and oil spill response planning to prevent a repeat of such an environmental disaster.

Solutions we currently offer to customers
Air scrubbers are then used as part of the clean-up process.  Similar to thermal oxidizers, air scrubbers are designed to eliminate hazardous air pollutants and volatile organic compounds from industrial air streams. The adoption of electric heaters, exemplified by TUTCO SureHeat’s cutting-edge family of process heaters, ensures precise and efficient destruction of contaminants and cleaner and more sustainable industrial environment. Read more about Air Scrubbers.

A bit about Soil Vapors and why they can be harmful
Soil vapors are gases that emanate from the soil, caused by the presence of volatile substances within the ground. These substances can be anything from natural compounds to man-made pollutants.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), a common type of soil vapor, can contaminate soil and groundwater due to industrial spills or leaks. These VOCs can evaporate, or become vapor, at room temperature. Some examples include chemicals used in dry cleaning, fuel, or other industrial processes.

While it's normal for soil to "breathe" out certain gases, what we must watch out for are harmful soil vapors, as these can pose risks to human health and our environment. Techniques like soil vapor extraction offer a way to remove these harmful vapors, helping to keep our soil clean and safe. It's a fascinating field that combines science, engineering, and environmental stewardship all in one!

How Soil Vapor Extraction Works
Soil vapor extraction, often referred to as SVE, is a process used to remove volatile contaminants from the soil, acting like a big vacuum cleaner for the earth. Let me break down the steps for you to explain how it works:

  1. Setup: First, engineers drill wells into the ground in and around the area of contamination. These wells are connected to a central vacuum system.
  2. Extraction: The vacuum system applies a negative pressure or suction force. This pressure change causes the volatile pollutants in the soil, typically volatile organic compounds (VOCs), to evaporate, or turn into gas.
  3. Collection: The vacuum system then sucks up the gas from the soil via the wells. This gas, laden with the pollutants, is carried up to the surface.
  4. Treatment: The gas is then treated using various methods, often heat, to extract and separate the contaminants from the gas. The clean, treated gas is then released safely into the air.
  5. Monitoring and Termination: The process continues until contaminant levels in the soil are sufficiently reduced. The efficiency of the system is monitored throughout, and the process is stopped when desired, safe soil conditions are achieved.

So, in essence, soil vapor extraction is an effective way to pull harmful compounds out of the soil, helping to protect our environment carefully and efficiently. Worded differently, SVE is a game of pressure and vacuum, turning harmful chemicals into vapors, and then sucking those up for treatment. It is marvelous how we can apply science to tackle environmental issues!

Contact TUTCO SureHeat to talk to someone about electric heat for SVE?

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