INVENTION: "Soil Probe" samples ionic soil contaminants such as heavy metals in hazardous waste sites. Contaminated soil must be characterized and monitored to determine the best approach and cost to clean up a hazardous waste site. Soil Probe is the only known device that enables on-site analysis of ionic heavy metals in low permeable soil. Soil Probe would characterize a large waste site in about a day, whereas currently available devices would characterize that same site in about a week or more. Soil Probe does not require any drilling, because it works with commercially available “direct push” equipment. Unlike currently available methods, Soil Probe:
Is very inexpensive to install and operate Is easy to install and operate Is safe for workers to install Is minimally invasive Is the only known device that enables on-site analysis of ionic heavy metals in low permeable soil Saves significant time to characterize large waste sites. The majority of site explorations in the United States involve some form of drilling and boring. According to the National Research Council (1994), drilling and boring costs can range from a low value of about $66/m ($20/ft) to as high as $3,300/m ($1,000/ft)! Drilling techniques are often complicated and time consuming, as pumping considerations and the like come into play. While drilling, workers can come into direct contact with contaminated cuttings, and this presents a health hazard. Currently available sampling devices can be difficult and expensive to install.
Existing soil sampling methods for certain kinds of contaminants usually require an acid extraction technique performed in a laboratory setting. Soil Probe extracts ionic heavy metals while the probe is in the ground, so a laboratory is not needed to remove heavy metals from soil. This explains why it is the only known method with practical applications on-site. Soil Probe can contain reusable components, it can sample large volumes of soil and operate at various sampling depths (up to 50 feet), it minimizes cross contamination of samples, and it functions in both saturated and unsaturated zones for a variety of moist soils. The below figure illustrates an application of Soil Probe.
PROOF-OF-CONCEPT: The collection methods have been tested with a variety of media possessing different grain sizes, ion exchange capacities, moisture contents, and contaminant concentrations. In one example, Soil Probe collected up to 83% of cadmium that was placed in a media. In another example, Soil Probe collected up to 90% of selenate placed in media. Soil Probe effectively collects contaminants in most moist soils.
U.S. Patent No.7,297,245
Barbara Lewis, Brian Desharnais
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