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Evaluation of pulsed corona discharge plasma for the treatment of petroleum-contaminated soil

Li, Rui, Liu, Yanan, Mu, Ruiwen, Cheng, Wenyan, Ognier, Stéphanie
Environmental science and pollution research international 2017 v.24 no.2 pp. 1450-1458
petroleum, soil remediation, transportation, phenanthrenes, human health, soil water, Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy, energy efficiency, gas chromatography-mass spectrometry
Petroleum hydrocarbons released to the environment caused by leakage or illegal dumping pose a threat to human health and the natural environment. In this study, the potential of a pulsed corona discharge plasma system for treating petroleum-polluted soils was evaluated. This system removed 76.93 % of the petroleum from the soil in 60 min with an energy efficiency of 0.20 mg/kJ. Furthermore, the energy and degradation efficiencies for the remediation of soil contaminated by single polyaromatic hydrocarbons, such as phenanthrene and pyrene, were also compared, and the results showed that this technology had potential in organic-polluted soil remediation. In addition, the role of water molecules was investigated for their direct involvement in the formation and transportation of active species. The increase of soil moisture to a certain extent clearly benefitted degradation efficiency. Then, treated soils were analyzed by FTIR and GC-MS for proposing the degradation mechanism of petroleum. During the plasma discharging processes, the change of functional group and the detection of small aromatic hydrocarbons indicated that the plasma active species attached petroleum hydrocarbons and degradation occurred. This technique reported herein demonstrated significant potential for the remediation of heavily petroleum-polluted soil, as well as for the treatment of organic-polluted soils.