Electromigration offers a potential tool for remediating ground water contaminated with highly soluble components, such as Na+, Cl-, NO3-, and SO4-. A field experiment was designed to test the efficacy of electromigration for preconcentrating dissolved SO42- in ground water associated with a fossil-fuel power plant. Two shallow wells, 25 feet apart (one 25 feet deep, the other 47 feet deep), were constructed in the upper portion of an unconfined alluvial aquifer. The wells were constructed with a double-wall design, with an outer casing of 4-inch PVC and an inner tube of 2-inch PVC; both were fully slotted (0.01 inch). Electrodes were constructed by wrapping the inner tubing with a 100-foot length of rare-earth metal oxide/copper wire. An electrical potential of 10.65 volts DC was applied, and tests were run for periods of 12, 44, and 216 hours. Results showed large changes in the pH from the initial pH of ground water of about 7.5 to values of approximately 2 and 12 at the anode and cathode, respectively. Despite the fact that the test conditions were far from ideal, dissolved SO42- was significantly concentrated at the anode. Over a period of approximately nine days, the concentration of SO42- at the anode reached what appeared to be a steady-state value of 2200 mg/L, compared to the initial value in ground water of approximately 1150 mg/L. The results of this field test should encourage further investigation of electromigration as a tool in the remediation of contaminated ground water.
Additional publication details
A Field Test of Electromigration as a Method for Remediating Sulfate from Shallow Ground Water