How to Determine if Thermal Remediation is a Good Fit for your Site

More people than ever are choosing Thermal technologies to remediate a wide variety of sites these days.  While quite a few in the industry have gained experience in selecting sites for thermal, many are still learning about it and have questions about the criteria that make a site a great fit. So, this blog post is intended to provide a few fundamental questions to help you determine if thermal is right for your site:

Are the Contaminants right for Thermal Remediation?

If they are organic compounds or mercury, Thermal technologies are applicable.  For instance, we have had 100% success in treatment of organic compounds, i.e., chlorinated solvents, PAHs, volatiles, etc.  We have not treated Mercury to date in the field, but we are able to.

Is there a need for quick contaminant removal?

Thermal operations are typically less than 6 months for 100°C applications and < 12 months for >100°C applications.  Excavation is the most closely matched remediation approach to thermal since they are both quick and complete.  Excavation may not be appropriate at every site due to the infrastructure at the site, desire to go greener, depth of contamination, etc.  Thermal is not directly comparable to other in-situ technologies because of contaminant level usually.  Sometimes chemical oxidation could be used at sites that are also suitable for thermal.  The difference in duration can be quite significant in that the more grossly contaminated a site is, the more chemical oxidation injections are needed. This can consume time, especially since there is a duration that is needed after an injection to discern the “rebound” effect. During observation of the “rebound” effect, it is necessary to determine when the next injection is needed and how much chemical is needed to inject.

Is there a need for thorough contaminant removal?

Thermal can achieve orders of magnitude of removal.  Removal of >99% is common in the vast majority of TerraTherm projects.  We always achieve results below the remedial goals, and in many cases we have achieved results that are well below such goals.

Is the source area characterized by NAPL or high soil concentrations (i.e., ppm to percent levels)?

Thermal is a great fit for grossly contaminated sites. If you have dissolved phase contamination, thermal may not be the best approach due to cost and since other technologies such as bioremediation or chemical oxidation may be a better fit.

If you can qualify your site based on most or all of the questions above, thermal might be your best option.  Naturally, there is still much more to know in making such an important decision. The good news is you don’t have to look for answers alone… TerraTherm is here to help! To kick this process off, please visit this link  to complete one or our site questionnaires to help you further refine your understanding of thermal’s fit at your site. We are interested in the size and depth of your thermal treatment zone, related site maps, and cross-sections, porosities, hydraulic conductivities, saturated or unsaturated conditions, and so on. 

About Kelly Clemons

Ms. Kelly Clemons is a Technical Sales Representative at TerraTherm. Ms. Clemons currently manages technical sales inquires, treatability studies, and participates in related conceptual design development and report writing. To request information about a potential site please feel free to contact her at
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