Treatment of hazardous material spills with floating mass transfer media




Mercer, Basil W., Alan J. Shuckrow and Gaynor W. Dawson

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development


An approach for the in situ treatment of spills of soluble hazardous polluting substances was developed and demonstrated on a field scale for a static body of water. Laboratory-scale experimentation showed that floating sorbents and ion exchange resins could be highly effective removal agents when applied as small particles beneath the surface of contaminated waters. A lightweight commercial activated carbon was found to be particularly effective for removing organic substances such as phenol, aromatic hydrocarbons, and organophosphorus insecticides from water. The activated carbon can be pulverized to a small mesh size (100 x 325) which floats slowly to the surface of the water. The small mesh size enhances both the contact time and the sorption kinetics. Floating ion exchange resins were also prepared for use on spills of acid (e.g., sulfuric and hydrochloric), alkalis (e.g., caustic soda) and toxic salts (e.g., sodium cyanide). Hollow glass microspheres are incorporated in the resin granules for buoyancy. Delivery systems which show promise for field use include: (1) ice cakes containing floating media and gravel ballast; (2) clay cylinders; and (3) weighted plastic bottles. Field demonstrations were conducted using carbon contained in weighted plastic gallon bottles. The carbon proved highly effective in removing an organophosphorus pesticide spilled in a large basin, and was easily collected through use of an oil containment boom. Ice encapsulated floating anion exchange resin beads were similarly employed to neutralize a spill of sulfuric acid.


93 pgs.


hazardous substances, floating mass transfer media, mass transfer, water treatment plants, in situ treatment, soluble hazardous polluting substance, sorbents, ion exchange resins, commercial activated carbon, organic, phenol, aromatic hydrocarbons, organophosphorus insecticides, sulfuric and hydrochloric acid, caustic soda, sodium cyanide, ice cakes, gravel ballast, clay cylinders, plastic bottles