In situ electro-osmotic cleanup of tar contaminated soil—Removal of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons


Lima, Ana T.
Kleingeld, Pieter J.
Heister, Katja
Loch, J.P. Gustav

KAUST Grant Number


An in situ electro-osmosis experiment was set up in a tar contaminated clay soil in Olst, the Netherlands, at the site of a former asphalt factory. The main goal of this experiment was to remove polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from the contaminated clay layer by applying an electric gradient of 12 V m-1 across the soil over an electrode distance of 1 m. With the movement of water by electro-osmosis and the addition of a non-ionic surfactant (Tween 80), the non-polar PAHs were dragged along by convection and removed from the fine soil fraction. Soil samples were taken at the start and after 159 days at the end of the experiment. Water at the electrode wells was sampled regularly during the course of the experiment. The results reflect the heterogeneity of the soil characteristics and show the PAH concentrations within the experimental set up. After first having been released into the anolyte solution due to extraction by Tween 80 and subsequent diffusion, PAH concentrations increased significantly in the electrode reservoirs at the cathode side after 90 days of experiment. Although more detailed statistical analysis is necessary to quantify the efficiency of the remediation, it can be concluded that the use of electro-osmosis together with a non-ionic surfactant is a feasible technique to mobilize non-polar organic contaminants in clayey soils. Crown Copyright © 2011 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Lima AT, Kleingeld PJ, Heister K, Loch JPG (2012) In situ electro-osmotic cleanup of tar contaminated soil—Removal of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. Electrochimica Acta 86: 142–147. Available:

We thank Bärbel Agres (Techinische Universität München) for the PAH analysis. Frank Volkering from TAUW is kindly acknowledged for providing the sample material and information about the contaminated site. This publication was based on work supported by Award No KUK-C1-017-12, made by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

Elsevier BV

Electrochimica Acta


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