Category Archives: FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

To Wipe or Not to Wipe: Ensuring Equipment Cleanliness after Decontamination

At TerraTherm, our wellfield and process equipment can take a beating! Between high concentrations of hazardous chemicals, corrosive conditions, and elevated temperatures, piping and equipment generally need a bit of TLC before being put back into circulation for use at another site. When TerraTherm is operating at sites with persistent organic pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or dioxin/furans, decontamination becomes even more difficult and even more important.  Along with typical decontamination procedures such as steam cleaning and pressure washing, washing with a non-ionizing  detergent (e.g. Simple Green) is typically necessary. Additional rinsing of equipment with specialized products such as … Continue reading

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How TerraTherm’s ThinkThermal Website and Data Plotter Connect Clients with Real Time Data

Thermal projects are quick – we often heat and treat a site in less than 6 months.  It is crucial to be on top of all the data and know when it is time to stop, or when to collect confirmatory samples to document performance.  Every day and week counts, so the project team must have immediate access to the data from the field. As an engineer and data manager for TerraTherm, I have found that two of the most useful tools that I have to help keep our project teams and clients up to date are the ThinkThermal.com website … Continue reading

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What’s the Temperature? Thermal Modeling and its Importance in Thermal Remediation

What is a model? A beautiful person who struts down a run way, a scaled down sculpture of the Empire State Building, or a series of equations that describe some phenomenon? Did you guess all of the above? Gold star! Models come in many different shapes and sizes. In the environmental consulting and remediation industry, the word “model” often refers to a numerical model. Numerical models are tools that we use to better understand a system. They can be used to make predictions and to test hypotheses. The thermal models that we customize and construct in house at TerraTherm are … Continue reading

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Lower Explosive Limit (LEL) Monitoring for Estimating Mass Removed

Since 2000, TerraTherm has removed over three million pounds of organic contaminants from the sites we have treated. Many of these sites had yielded too much mass to economically use granular activated carbon as the vapor treatment method. Therefore, we often use thermal oxidizers, using gas and the fuel value of the contaminants to treat the vapors at temperatures of 1500°F (816°C) or higher. The National Fire Protection Agency has mandated continuous monitoring of vapors entering oxidizers when those vapors are expected to be over the 25% Lower Explosive Limit (LEL). Additionally, thermal oxidizers generally have a safe upper operable … Continue reading

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In Situ Thermal Remediation (ISTR) Market Trends

Through recent competitive proposals it has become obvious that the ISTR market is trending towards a more competitive, commodity-style product. While TerraTherm often ranks high on quality and approach, there is an obvious need to reduce base pricing in order to stay competitive for the smaller, more straightforward sites. Tier One Pricing Solution: TerraTherm’s history of uninterrupted success provides an impetus for clients (e.g., Federal, State, and Private) to consider TerraTherm’s Tier One solution for ISTR sites. Tier One offers a simpler and more streamlined In Situ Thermal Desorption (ISTD) project delivery approach, focusing on essential project elements and price … Continue reading

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Thermal Treatment of Fractured Rock – How is it Different?

Fractured rock sites are different – often it is difficult even to determine how deep the Non-Aqueous Phase Liquid (NAPL) has gone, and to define what we refer to as the “source area”. Some sites have NAPL in the fractures, and some have most of the mass trapped in the matrix, into which it has diffused over decades. This blog post discusses the two main challenges: How to decide on the thermal treatment volume without making the problem worse. How to design and implement an effective and safe thermal system. For any aggressive source treatment to be cost-effective, it is … Continue reading

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Vapor Cover for Thermal Treatment – Why and When Is It Needed?

Have you ever wondered why most of TerraTherm’s sites are covered with a freshly installed cover? This blog post presents the reasoning – why the investment in a relatively expensive vapor cover may be the key to a successful remedy and how you may be taking a major risk if you decide to save the money and not install one properly. In situ thermal treatment typically involves heating the subsurface to 100-335oC and extracting the vaporized contaminants using vacuum wells. A vapor cover is used to: Limit the infiltration of rain water into the treatment area. Create a vapor tight … Continue reading

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Eight Misconceptions about Thermal Conduction Heating (TCH) and Electrical Resistance Heating (ERH)

The Internet can be a tricky place. Sometimes when researching, it can become difficult to weed through the piles of information. Through some research of my own, I’ve come to find that there exist a few common misconceptions about thermal technologies. Many companies only practice one method of thermal heating, so it is understandable that misconceptions about another technology arise. TerraTherm on the other hand practices all three of the most accepted and mainstream methods of heating the subsurface: Thermal Conductive Heating (TCH), Electrical Resistance Heating (ERH), and Steam Enhanced Extraction (SEE). This post is meant to clarify misconceptions between … Continue reading

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Vapor Extraction and Pneumatic Control in Clay

Many sites at which remediation using thermal methods is being considered contain thick clay layers in the subsurface. The difficulty with treating clay is that it is not very permeable, meaning liquids will not move through it rapidly. Chemicals often get stuck within the clay matrix and cannot be removed easily unless one heats the clay to boiling temperatures.  But how will the chemicals move out of such a tight material?  If the clay consists of tiny particles and minerals, too small for water to move more than a few meters in a year, how can we get the chemicals … Continue reading

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How to Measure Thermal Remediation Success: Is There a Universal Yardstick?

Now, this may be crazy talk, but I’d venture to say that by the end of this post, you and I will have discovered the answer to one of the universe’s greatest questions: Is there a universal yardstick to measure thermal remediation success?  You and I both know that question is right up there with some of the other big ones: What’s the meaning of life? How do we ensure world peace? etc., and I can’t possibly be the only one who’s kept awake at night trying to figure it out.  I’m still working on the meaning of life and … Continue reading

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