Solutions for Cleaning Oil Contaminated Soil with the C.E.P.T. Process - Continuous Earth Processing Technologies
The C.E.P.T. remediation process equipment is about the size of a large SUV. It is fully mobile and self-propelled. Previously excavated soil is deposited in the hopper at the top of the apparatus by a conventional front-end loader. Very large debris, such as rock, concrete or asphalt, is usually screened off at the hopper opening. From the hopper, the soil is transferred in a regulated flow to a custom designed processing mill. The mill impacts and shreds the soil, while blending a treatment solution (chemical, biological, or both), along with air and moisture, into the soil using a method that is proprietary to Ascension Technologies, Inc. The contaminant molecules in the soil are already being degraded or neutralized by the time the soil emerges from the processing mill. The treated soil may be deposited directly to the ground from the mill. However, the apparatus includes a conveyor system at the back end, which may be used to deposit the soil in locations and configurations as desired or to meet site space constraints.
Technical Principles Explaining C.E.P.T. Reliability
The C.E.P.T. process combined with our PetroLuxus™ formulations is designed to meet all of the critical requirements for a successful soil remediation technology (i.e., one that produces “non-detect” results from today’s standard soil testing methods, consistently and quickly). The technical principals applied are:
1. Ability to apply PetroLuxus™ formulation treatment products.
Virtually any contaminant is susceptible to being degraded or neutralized at the molecular level by a chemical reaction or digestion by microbes. A great deal of research and development has gone on, and continues to go on, with the objective of finding or creating specific treatment products based on this principle. It is not as widely known that such products have already been created PetroLuxus™ and, are already in commercial use with the commercialization of C.E.P.T.
The PetroLuxus™ product is used most commonly today to remediate hydrocarbons as part of various cleaning and degreasing applications. The details of the PetroLuxus™ chemical reactions involved are proprietary and confidential, but the reactions are complex and, to a large extent, occur simultaneously. The reactions begin immediately upon application, quickly enough to inhibit the volatilization of any toxic components into the atmosphere before the degradation process is completed. We have found that the PetroLuxus™ formulation works as effectively in degrading hydrocarbon contamination in soil as it does in the cleaning or degreasing applications.
In short, the means to degrade, destroy and/or permanently neutralize contaminant compounds exists today through the use of our PetroLuxus™ remediation products. We do not believe that there is any form of contamination that is forever immune to chemical and/or biological treatment.
2. Inconsistencies in soil conditions and content requires excavation and proper processing to create a consistent and predictable soil matrix.
The primary reason that the products described above have not been widely used to remediate contaminated soil, is the lack of an effective, reliable and versatile method for introducing reagents into a stock of soil. Soil conditions found in nature can vary significantly within a matter of a few feet, or even a few inches (vertically and horizontally). Soil naturally varies in its composition (e.g., clay, sand, hardpan, gravel, etc.), compaction, acidity, moisture content, etc. Moreover, a stock of soil can contain a variety of materials such as rock, wood, metal debris, etc., which are capable of obstructing the free flow of air and moisture.
Nevertheless, most of those who have been developing and promoting soil remediation technologies, from vapor extraction, sparging, bio-injection, thermal treatment, soil-washing, etc., have operated on the assumption that this variability is not a significant constraint on the effectiveness and efficiency of such technologies. Yet these technologies have not been effective in removing or neutralizing contamination, except under controlled conditions, or with incomplete results, or through intervention with highly expensive and/or slow acting processes. In fact, in our view, the only credible and meaningful success stories associated with these technologies (especially bioremediation) is where they have been applied to create barriers in front of contaminant plumes.
We have determined, after several years of research and practical experience with a variety of these technologies, that this variability of soil conditions and content is the principal, if not sole, barrier to effective and efficient remediation of contamination-saturated soil. We believe that for any remediation technology to be considered viable it must, first and foremost, have a means of eliminating this variability in the soil, in conjunction with introducing our PetroLuxus™ chemical formulations. Second, the method for rendering the soil into a homogenous matrix must reduce the soil to a fine particle state in order to maximize access to the contaminant molecules. Third, the method must have a means of ensuring that the reagent(s) is evenly distributed throughout this homogenous soil matrix, and allowed to complete the degradation-neutralization process, before the soil loses its homogenous and fine particulate composition.
Finally, to promote speed and efficiency, the soil matrix should include, at least initially, a relatively high level of air entrainment and a carefully calibrated level of moisture content. These are efficacious conditions for promoting and sustaining the desired chemical reactions; they are even more critical for a treatment regime based on biological organisms. We have found for example, that bioremediation methods that do not create these conditions (homogenous matrix, fine particulate, effective distribution, air entrainment and proper moisture) can take many months to show meaningful results, and may take years to achieve remediation objectives (perhaps requiring periodic re-injections of the biological reagents). However, with our process, meaningful results using biological organisms can be seen within hours, and remediation objectives achieved within a few weeks.
3. Adaptation of existing soil processing technology to create a homogenous, fine particle soil matrix.
Knowing that successful remediation technologies would depend upon effective soil processing technologies — i.e., technologies that (1) create a homogenous soil matrix consisting of fine particle soil elements; (2) ensure even distribution of our PetroLuxus™ formulations; (3) promote air entrainment; and so forth — we began researching and evaluating possible candidates. In addition, we did not want our process design to be hampered by uncertainties about the performance of such a critical element.
We did not find such candidates in the environmental remediation industry. We did, however, find many attractive candidates, presenting various combinations of strengths and weaknesses for our purposes, in the mining, sand-and-gravel and agricultural equipment industries. Processing and treatment of soils and soil content is, of course, a vital element in mining and sand-and-gravel operations, and in agriculture. In addition, we found similar technologies starting to become more common in the demolition industry (for materials processing) and some other industries far removed from, or at least outside the understanding of, the environmental remediation industry.
It does not serve the purposes of this paper to detail this part of our investigation. It should be sufficient to say that we not only researched these technologies, but also in certain instances made practical application of them to the purpose of remediating contaminated soil or simulations thereof. As a result, we were able to identify the best technology, its commercial embodiments and the basis for modifying it to meet our objectives.
It should be noted, in the interest of proper disclosure, that we are not the only company who has identified the need for or usefulness of soil processing equipment, of one type or another, to environmental remediation. We know of others who have attempted to commercialize inventions based on this insight, and we are also familiar with a variety of patents that have been issued, which contain references to the use of such equipment for environmental remediation. We do not, however, know of any other company who has succeeded in developing a practical and commercially proven process that meets all of the criteria for success that we identified, especially the ability and knowledge base necessary to remediate a wide range of contaminant types in a wide range of soil conditions, with efficiency and reliability.
4. Proper integration of PetroLuxus™ formulation treatment reagents with the soil processing mechanism.
As noted above, it is a necessary but not sufficient condition for success that the soil be processed into a homogenous matrix of fine particle soil elements. In addition, there has to be a means for evenly distributing the PetroLuxus™ formulation throughout the soil while it is in this homogenous state. In order to meet this objective, research was conducted into commercially available technologies that could be adapted to the purpose. We were able to identify a number of promising candidates, primarily in the agricultural equipment industry. In this industry, of course, it is desirable to obtain even distributions of chemicals, nutrients, and organic materials, into soil. The modifications required for our purposes were minor and involved minimal invention on our part.
It is worth noting that a key principle of the design is also what differentiates our process to a critical degree from other attempts at superficially similar remediation technology inventions. That is, our process distributes the PetroLuxus™ formulation precisely at the point that the soil is entering the processing mechanism that produces the homogenous matrix. As a result, the PetroLuxus™ formulations are being distributed throughout the contaminated soil at the exact moment that they are activated for the degradation/neutralization process. In addition, this is also the optimal stage for air entrainment and moisture control. Other remediation inventions have attempted to introduce the reagents some substantial time before or after the soil has been processed and, as a result, achieved inconsistent or unreliable results, including having to re-treat the soil. In our system, the PetroLuxus™ formulations is already in the process of degrading/neutralizing the contaminant molecules the moment that the soil exits the processing equipment
5. Ability to treat multiple contaminant types at the same time.
Many remediation projects, particularly on industrial or military property, are hampered, if not completely stymied, by the fact that the soil is contaminated by more than one pollutant or hazardous material. For example, a stock of soil might be contaminated with gasoline and soluble lead. All of the problems and challenges, that make remediating a single contaminant type so difficult and unreliable, are compounded when multiple contaminants are present (in fact, most other remediation technologies would be hard-pressed to efficiently remediate soil contaminated with even two different hydrocarbon types, such as gasoline and motor oil).
The ability to treat soil containing multiple contaminant types in the same reliable, efficient, affordable process, was not a critical objective of our research and development effort. However, we quickly discovered that the technologies we identified, and the processes we designed, were easily and readily adaptable to treating multiple contaminant types during a single pass through the process equipment. In fact, the modifications required to achieve this result are trivial. Essentially, they involve installing a series of separate storage and distribution systems acting in parallel, each of which applies a different reagent to the soil (for example, one PetroLuxus™ formulation to degrade the diesel fuel, another PetroLuxus™ formulation to neutralize the soluble lead) at the same time. There is no practical limit to the number of PetroLuxus™ delivery systems involved, and therefore number of contaminant types that may be treated in this way, other than constraints on the desired physical size of the processing equipment.
6. The process is a complete system, not just a piece of equipment or a treatment product.
The C.E.P.T. has been designed to be a fully commercial offering. That is, we wanted an owner/operator of the system to be readily able to treat a typical soil contamination problem, of any size, within a matter of days after training, and to have the ability to reasonably estimate the amount of time, labor, reagent, etc., required to complete the project. We may also license the C.E.P.T. technology to other companies who themselves have little knowledge of the principals involved in the design of C.E.P.T.
In order to achieve these objectives, we use a process that encompasses and standardizes all the phases in the lifecycle of a complete remediation project. This lifecycle encompasses testing of the soil for contaminant and soil conditions, through selecting the optimum PetroLuxus™ chemical formulations, to calibrating and adjusting the adjustable components of the process equipment, to properly loading the contaminated soil and depositing the remediated soil, to testing the remediated soil at intervals of time, to recording the results back into a standard database. The information gathered in the data is then available to better inform future remediation projects having similar characteristics.
As a result, the successful operation of C.E.P.T. does not require active involvement from the inventors of the process equipment, nor does it require the presence of highly trained technical professionals.
C.E.P.T. used in conjunction with PetroLuxus™ remediation formulations is a commercial reality today. The explanation of the C.E.P.T. process may seem surprisingly simple to those who have been frustrated by the failure of other remediation technologies. The trend in recent years has been to adopt remediation technologies that contain a high degree of engineering complexity and expensive, custom-designed components. Nevertheless, the simplicity of the technical concepts underlying the design of the C.E.P.T. process combined with the environmentally friendly PetroLuxus™ technologies, is part of the reason why it is so powerful. This is also why C.E.P.T. is the only fully commercial technology, existing today, that can treat such a wide range of contamination problems faster and at a lower cost than any other active method of remediation, including landfilling (i.e., “dig-and-dump”).
FEATURES and BENEFITS
C.E.P.T. is a major breakthrough in the science of remediating contaminated soils. C.E.P.T. was designed and developed after extensive research and testing of other remediation technologies. Most of these predecessor technologies have significant limitations or deficiencies. C.E.P.T. overcomes these limitations and deficiencies to a degree no other commercially available remediation system can match. Nevertheless, C.E.P.T. is comparatively simple in design and application, and is based entirely on proven treatment products and processing components.
Size and mobility: The C.E.P.T. remediation process equipment is approximately the size of a large SUV. It is completely mobile and self-propelled. Setup can be accomplished in a few hours. Working space need only be large enough to accommodate the treatment apparatus, a loader and a place to deposit the treated soil. C.E.P.T. can be employed cost-effectively on projects of all sizes, even in dense, urbanized areas.
Processing capacity: The lines of Ascension Technologies manufactured remediation process equipment includes four configurations rate to treat from 40 to 320 tons of soil per hour. No project is too big to be tackled with the C.E.P.T. process. The equipment is so efficient that the only constraint you need to consider is the number and size and loaders required to keep up.
Method of treatment: C.E.P.T. is designed to work with PetroLuxus™ soluble decontamination reagent that has been suitably prepared and mixed according to our proprietary methods. This flexibility means we can select the most effective and suitable treatment process for each specific contamination problem, taking into account soil type, soil condition, soil temperature, etc. This flexibility makes it possible for us to guarantee our work.
Treatment results: In the C.E.P.T. process, the contaminants are either destroyed or rendered environmentally inert (by chemical bonding or degradation). Even better, the method by which the reagents are introduced to the contamination produces results more quickly than other methods. In particular, biological treatment is capable of producing desired results in days, not months.
Environmental impact: The C.E.P.T. produces no negative environmental byproducts, no excess heat (there is no thermal process involved), and no hazardous materials or toxic sludge to haul away from the treatment site. The reagent solutions we use do not pose any threat to the environment; they are totally biodegradable. The engine operating the C.E.P.T. equipment produces no more noise or exhaust gases than would a moderate-sized gasoline generator.
C.E.P.T. Remediation Process Equipment
The current line of Ascension Technologies – manufactured remediation systems includes four configurations, ranging in processing capacity from 40 to 320 tons of soil per hour.
Our 3 basic configurations are based on a similar structural platform, which has been specifically designed for easy transport by trailer or for loading into a standard 20 foot shipping container for long distance deployment. In addition, all configurations are powered by Perkins diesel-powered engines, which provide power for the soil processing mill — where steady, reliable power is key to thorough treatment of embedded contamination.
All configurations include self-propelled, radio remote-controlled movement and steering. In addition, certain configurations include (standard or extra-cost option) an operator station near one end of the hopper for optimal control and supervision of system operation.
Our 3 basic machines use a 4-wheel configuration for enhanced maneuverability. Our largest capacity machine come with dual loading stations, perfect for those large projects that require greater maneuverability.
Larger capacity machines come equipped standard with a larger hopper opening, in order to accommodate use of big capacity front-end loaders. All configurations come with a speed-adjustable main conveyor system for transporting contaminated soil from the hopper to the soil processing mill. In our largest capacity machines, speed adjustment can be performed from the operator control station without having to stop operations.
The soil processing mill in all configurations comes equipped with a Star Wheel bar in addition to the main processing wheel. This design allows the processing mill to operate efficiently in even the most difficult soil conditions and compositions. In the larger capacity machines, this Star Wheel comes equipped with its own hydraulic drive system to further boost operating efficiency.
All configurations include multiple remediation fluid injection systems (either dual or triple). This makes it possible to inject more efficiently remediation treatment chemical formulations into the soil to provide a higher proportional volume of a single formulation, as required for a given contaminant situation.
Finally, the larger capacity configurations come with an optional “built-in” system for measuring the weight of soil being processed. This makes it possible to accurately track throughput and processing totals by weight rather than, or in addition to, standard volume measurements.
The F.R.E. Process
The C.E.P.T. – F.R.E. – “Fluid Recovery Extraction” Process in Brief
The Ascension Technologies fluid recovery extraction mobile/skid mounted process, also know and the C.E.P.T. – F.R.E. unit, adds a complete additional phase to development of our highly contaminated (> 50,000 mg/kg +), high capacity (60 tons per hour thru 240 tons per hour) soil abilities with the addition of oil recycling and recovery from sand, soil and drill cuttings. This unit is ideal for resource recovery at “blowout” storage pits, tank bottoms and other highly contaminant environments.
Additionally, the “F.R.E.” process is available in a wheeled mobile unit with a production capacity of 60 tons per hour mounted on a 48′ Fontaine step deck trailer.