2016 In Review

I’m pleased to provide a brief review of TerraTherm’s progress toward our mission to be the worldwide leader in the development and implementation of thermal remediation of organic contaminant source zones.

I am thankful to those customers we had the honor of serving this past year.  Team TerraTherm is  dedicated to earning and keeping our customers’ trust and goodwill, by always endeavoring to fully comprehend and meet their remediation and related business objectives.

TerraTherm started the year by adding another international partner, Beijing Enviro-Chem Environmental Technology CO., Ltd (Beijing Enviro-Chem). Beijing Enviro-Chem and TerraTherm are pleased to join forces in providing urgently needed technologies and products to help advance China’s commitment to environmental remediation. There is a tremendous amount of opportunity for TerraTherm’s thermal technologies to cost-effectively remediate China’s environmental challenges. We look forward to continuing to develop this market in 2017.

On May 6th, TerraTherm acquired the internationally recognized In Situ Thermal Remediation (ISTR) technology provider, Current Environmental Solutions (CES). CES was founded in 1997 by the Battelle Memorial Institute (BMI) and Terra Vac as the first private company to commercialize Electrical Resistance Heating (ERH), a form of ISTR. BMI operates the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) for the Department of Energy (DOE). All research and development information and associated patents were transferred from BMI to the staff at CES. CES remains the most experienced ERH vendor in the world and has maintained fundamental engineering principles and practices developed through extensive laboratory and field testing. This unique technical know-how has allowed CES to build an unprecedented and unparalleled track record of successes in the ERH field. With CES on board, TerraTherm is the only thermal vendor that offers all thermal technologies in-house. TerraTherm is uniquely qualified among thermal contractors to offer an unbiased evaluation of each site’s unique characteristics.

Heated-Box (HB)1100

Following two successful pilot tests in December 2015, TerraTherm, along with ex situ thermal desorption company, ESMI Companies, continued to develop a patented In Pile Thermal Desorption® (IPTD®) technology we titled the Heated-Box. Our first commercial development of the Heated-Box is capable of treating 100 cubic yards of contaminated soil or sediment, thus we named it the Heated-Box (HB)1100. The HB1100 was initially introduced to the market at the Battelle Chlorinated Conference in Palm Springs California back in May 2016. Since then, we have seen a number of interested parties in this remedial approach, mostly taking the form of site inquiries.

HB1100 leverages TerraTherm’s vast experience utilizing the robust Thermal Conductive Heating (TCH) approach for in situ remediation, but now the TCH process is incorporated into above-ground, modular treatment units. This proprietary heat-transfer approach makes use of embedded heaters within an insulated steel structure, which uniformly drives energy (in the form of heat) into the soil, ensuring rapid and energy efficient on-site treatment.

This approach demonstrates a proven heating and extraction approach applied to a niche market that was not adequately being serviced. Traditional on-site thermal desorption systems have been around since the 1980s, but are typically cost-effective only for large volumes of soil. With the HB1100, sites with modest volumes of impacted soil or sediment can now be addressed without the need to mobilize a large thermal desorption unit, or alternatively haul the contamination off-site for treatment and/or disposal at a hazardous waste landfill; Compared to the cost of off-site incineration, the HB1100 unit treatment cost is ~50% lower.

The HB1100 is ideal for treatment of modest volumes of soil/sediment (<12,000 cubic yards), and can be applied to any organic contaminants including PCBs, Dioxins, coal tar, PAHs and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Additionally, the HB1100 can be a solution for on-site management of drill cuttings, or as an add-on treatment unit at existing fixed based treatment facilities unable to accept certain RCRA or other types /concentrations of hazardous wastes, or can even be used as an on-site process for stripping organics from co-mingled heavy metals or other “Land banned” constituents.   Click here for more information.


An additional example of our advancements this year is our Tier-One projects. In 2015, we introduced our optimized, efficient and cost-effective Tier-One solution for smaller qualifying thermal sites. Our objective was to develop a cost competitive solution through pre-engineered solutions, plug and play equipment components, sustainability analysis and energy optimization, a large fleet of equipment and improved accuracy of subsurface models and data management. By using our Tier-One solution, you will get the TerraTherm quality and results at a reduced price.

TerraTherm Tier One Container

TerraTherm Tier One Container

We are now happy to announce that we have completed our first two Tier-One projects:

Northern NJ: The first Tier-One project completion was in northern NJ.  Approximately 7,000 cubic yards were treated.  Pre-treatment concentrations were as high as 1700 mg/kg for PCE and 14,000 mg/kg for naphthalene.  Post remediation concentrations were < .03 mg/kg for PCE and < 16 mg/kg for naphthalene.

Norco, CA:  The second Tier-One project completion was in Norco, CA.  Approximately 18,000 cubic yards were treated.  TCE was remediated to a depth of 100 ft in a fractured bedrock site in Riverside County, California.  40 SVE screens co-located with heaters were used to extract steam and TCE vapors to maintain pneumatic control.  The project finished within schedule and budget, with DTSC approval of cessation of heat prior to demobilization.  Currently the site is in post-remedial performance monitoring.

Norco, CA

Norco, CA

Outstanding Safety Performance

Again in 2016, safety was our number one priority. A current example of strong safety performance is our ongoing IPTD® remediation project in Danang, Vietnam, where a team consisting of three contractors, including TerraTherm and local Vietnamese subcontractors, have completed three years and over 800,000 work hours without an incident requiring treatment beyond first aid!

This is a remarkable achievement when considering the emphasis typically placed on safety in Vietnam and other developing countries. The entire Danang team has spent the necessary time and resources to ensure that the project is executed safely. They perform extensive safety and health training for all employees on the site and provide the necessary personal protective equipment where necessary.

Click here for more information and an article written by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) about the safety performance of the Danang remediation.

Photo taken by TetraTech

Photo taken by TetraTech

I am most thankful for the incredibly talented and dedicated people of TerraTherm for another record year of achievements and who make it all worthwhile.  Having started my career in 1987 at ORS, a division of Groundwater Technology, Inc. (GTI), this past year marks my 30th year in the environmental remediation business.  As I reflect on all of the years and projects, what stands out the most are the people you work with.  My highest and best honor has been the opportunity to lead and be a member of team TerraTherm.

About John Bierschenk

John Bierschenk, is TerraTherm's Co-Founder and President. Mr. Bierschenk has overall responsibility for strategic and general management of the company. He has authored papers and several patents related to in-situ thermal remediation. Mr. Bierschenk also serves as Principal-In-Charge on projects. Experience includes 30 years of technical, strategic and business management experience in the environmental; including 10 years as an environmental consultant with ENSR Consulting and Engineering; and the general manager of ORS Environmental Equipment (a division of GTI). Holds a BS in Geology and an MBA; formerly a Professional Geologist in Pennsylvania (USA), and an LSP in Massachusetts. He serves as a Senior VP and officer of Cascade Environmental, in that role he is focused on providing clients with value-added thermal remediation solutions integrating the full service capabilities of Cascade.
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