Using heat and lances against pollutants

17. November 2019


The Leoben based GM Remediation Systems is remediating polluted industrial wastelands with environmentally friendly heat lances. The lances are submerged up to 20 metres below the surface and heated to around 1,200 degrees. As a result, the pollutants in the ground evaporate and are then channelled through suction systems to catalytic converters where they are cleaned. Previously, areas of contaminated ground have been cleaned by excavation or by the use of chemical or biogenic substances.


Efficient remediation of contaminated areas

Gernot Beutle, founder of GM Remediation Systems from Leoben, literally has a “hot” iron in the business fire. Because with its development for thermal soil and groundwater remediation, industrial wastelands are made usable for housing construction – quickly and in an environmentally friendly manner.

“When chlorinated solvents get into the ground, for example in old industrial plants, they settle down in the groundwater. However, they evaporate easily, which is why they can climb back over the walls of new buildings and reach the residents living in them, ”explains Beutle.


With hot lances in the ground

So far, such contaminated areas have been made “fit” again by excavation, whereby the polluted earth material has to be specially deposited. The use of chemical or biogenic “infusions” into the ground is also common when renovating such properties. But Beutle and his team of experts are breaking new ground by sinking lances up to 20 meters deep and heating them up to 1,200 degrees. This allows the pollutants to evaporate, which are directed from extraction systems to activated carbon filters or catalysts and be “eliminated”.

The principle of “heating up the soil” has so far been used in the industry to extract heavy oils from soils. But further developing the system in order to renovate contaminated areas is new territory, says Beutle. “We only count a handful of competitors worldwide,” reports Beutle, because the usual systems are cheaper, but more time-consuming and not always possible. “Our process is designed for special applications, for example when floors are specially designed or when things have to be quick, for example in urban property development projects.”


Continous improvement of the system

On the subject of development: together with Montanuni researchers, they are in the process of “upgrading” the hot innovation in the next two to three years for the removal of further classes of pollutants, says Beutle. And he also says that this white-green renovation system is already receiving attention across national borders: “We have already delivered systems to Germany, Brazil and China.”

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