Joule (ohmic) heating and electro-osmosis are combined in a hybrid process for removal of both water-soluble contaminants and non-aqueous phase liquids from contaminated, low-permeability soil formations that are saturated. Central to this hybrid process is the partial desaturation of the formation or layer using electro-osmosis to remove a portion of the pore fluids by induction of a ground water flow to extraction wells. Joule heating is then performed on a partially desaturated formation. The joule heating and electro-osmosis operations can be carried out simultaneously or sequentially if the desaturation by electro-osmosis occurs initially. Joule heating of the desaturated formation results in a very effective transfer or partitioning of liquid state contaminants to the vapor phase. The heating also substantially increases the vapor phase pressure in the porous formation. As a result, the contaminant laden vapor phase is forced out into soil layers of a higher permeability where other conventional removal processes, such as steam stripping or ground water extraction can be used to capture the contaminants. This hybrid process is more energy efficient than joule heating or steam stripping for cleaning low permeability formations and can share electrodes to minimize facility costs.
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.