Superfund Research Program
Microwave Technology for Superfund Site Remediation
Project Leader: Chang Yul Cha
Grant Number: R44ES011905
Funding Period: Phase II: 2004-2006
The long-term objective of this work is to build a commercial-scale portable microwave system that is capable of regenerating 50-kg/hr of saturated carbon. This process will also be capable of recovering solvent and other chemicals desorbed during regeneration. The project will demonstrate the cost benefit and environmental advantages of the microwave technology. This microwave technology will regenerate saturated carbon onsite and recover various chemicals generated from Superfund Site remediation and also recover perchloroethylene (PERC) in the air vented from dry cleaning facilities. The results obtained will be used to prove that microwave technology is an economic means of recovering PERC for reuse and preventing the emission of carcinogenic air contaminants. During Phase I, a field-ready prototype microwave reactor system was constructed and successfully operated for more than two months at the former McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, California. This demonstration showed that microwave technology can be a cost-effective solution for recovering chemicals from soil vapors produced from Superfund Site remediation operations. These field testing results strongly indicate that microwave regeneration restores the working adsorption capacity of carbon and that the amount of hydrocarbons adsorbed onto carbon in each adsorption cycle was recovered during successive microwave regenerations. The 50-kg/hr mobile microwave unit will be operated at two contaminated sites to recover fuels and chlorinated solvents from soil vapors and one medium size dry cleaning facility to recover and recycle PERC. Recovered PERC, along with other chlorinated solvents and fuels, will be completely characterized and acceptable purification methods and potential markets for the recycled chemicals will be established.