Electrical Resistance Heating (ERH) is an aggressive in situ thermal remediation technology that was developed by the U.S. Department of Energy from the original oil production technology to enhance vapor extraction remediation technologies in low permeability soils. Soil and groundwater are heated by the passage of electrical current through saturated and unsaturated soil between electrodes, not by the electrodes themselves. It is the resistance to the flow of electrical current that results in increased subsurface temperatures, and this is typically applied to the boiling point of water. It is estimated that more than 75 ERH applications have been performed. Capacity to perform these projects has increased over the years, and as many as 15 to 20 of these applications now being performed at any given time, mainly in North America, with some European applications. While the main focus has been to vaporize volatile organic compounds, as one would expect other semi-volatile and non-volatile organic compounds have also been encountered, resulting in observations of chemical and physical reactions that have not been normally incorporated into environmental restoration projects. One such reaction is hydrolysis, which is slow under normal groundwater temperatures, becomes very rapid under temperatures that can easily be achieved using ERH. As a result, these chemical and physical reactions are increasing the applicability of ERH in environmental restoration projects, treating a wider variety of compounds and utilizing biotic and abiotic mechanisms to reduce energy costs. For the treatment of oil and coal tar residues from manufactured gas plants, a process TRS has called steam bubble floatation is used to physically remove the coal and oil tar from the soils for collection using conventional multi-phase collection methods. Heat-enhanced hydrolysis has been used to remediate dichloromethane from soils and groundwater at a site in Illinois, while heat-enhanced biotic and abiotic dehalogenation has been observed at the vast majority of the sites where ERH has been applied. With disposal options becoming more limited around the world, alternate in situ treatment methods for soil and groundwater restoration are becoming more important. Over the 10 years of commercialization of the ERH technology, soil and groundwater remediation mechanisms and processes that were not envisioned by the technology’s developers expand the range of chemicals that have successfully been treated. This paper will discuss these processes and how these processes have been used to effect remediation of soil and groundwater where ERH has been employed.

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