A system for treating dissolved halogenated organic compounds in groundwater that relies upon electrolytically-generated hydrogen to chemically reduce the halogenated compounds in the presence of a suitable catalyst. A direct current is placed across at least a pair, or an array, of electrodes which are housed within groundwater wells so that hydrogen is generated at the cathode and oxygen at the anode. A pump is located within the well housing in which the cathode(s) is(are) located and draws in groundwater where it is hydrogenated via electrolysis, passes through a well-bore treatment unit, and then transported to the anode well(s) for reinjection into the ground. The well-bore treatment involves a permeable cylinder located in the well bore and containing a packed bed of catalyst material that facilitates the reductive dehalogenation of the halogenated organic compounds by hydrogen into environmentally benign species such as ethane and methane. Also, electro-osmatic transport of contaminants toward the cathode also contributes to contaminant mass removal. The only above ground equipment required are the transfer pipes and a direct circuit power supply for the electrodes. The electrode wells in an array may be used in pairs or one anode well may be used with a plurality of cathode wells. The DC current flow between electrode wells may be periodically reversed which controls the formation of mineral deposits in the alkaline cathode well-bore water, as well as to help rejuvenate the catalysis.
The United States Government has rights in this invention pursuant to Contract No. W-7405-ENG-48 between the United States Department of Energy and the University of California for the operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.