Application of nanoscale zero valent iron (NZVI) for groundwater remediation in Europe
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Nanoscale zero valent iron (NZVI) is emerging as a new option for the treatment of contaminated soil and groundwater targeting mainly chlorinated organic contaminants (e.g., solvents, pesticides) and inorganic anions or metals. The purpose of this article is to give a short overview of the practical experience with NZVI applications in Europe and to present a comparison to the situation in the USA. Furthermore, the reasons for the difference in technology use are discussed.
The results in this article are based on an extensive literature review and structured discussions in an expert workshop with experts from Europe and the USA. The evaluation of the experiences was based on a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity, threat) analysis.
There are significant differences in the extent and type of technology used between NZVI applications in Europe and the USA. In Europe, only three full-scale remediations with NZVI have been carried out so far, while NZVI is an established treatment method in the USA. Bimetallic particles and emulsified NZVI, which are extensively used in the USA, have not yet been applied in Europe. Economic constraints and the precautionary attitude in Europe raise questions regarding whether NZVI is a cost-effective method for aquifer remediation. Challenges to the commercialization of NZVI include mainly non-technical aspects such as the possibility of a public backlash, the fact that the technology is largely unknown to consultants, governments and site owners as well as the lack of long-term experiences.
Despite these concerns, the results of the current field applications with respect to contaminant reduction are promising, and no major adverse impacts on the environment have been reported so far. It is thus expected that these trials will contribute to promoting the technology in Europe.