News & Events
News & Press
TerraTherm's first demonstration in fractured rock was completed at the UK Atomic Energy Authority's Harwell site in England, where disposal pits above a chalk layer have led to serious DNAPL contamination. Remediation of fractured rock sites impacted by non-aqueous phase liquids (NAPLs) such as chlorinated solvents and oils presents a unique challenge because the source zone can contain both residual and pooled NAPL in open fractures, as well as aqueous phase contaminants that have diffused into the rock matrix. The Harwell pilot test was completed by AIG and TerraTherm in December 2005, with promising results. TerraTherm is in the process of performing further data evaluation of this site.
TerraTherm is pleased to announce the recent on time and on budget cleanup of an important, high profile Brownfields site, contaminated with CVOCs and DNAPL, located in Richmond, CA directly on San Francisco Bay. The project was successfully completed using TerraTherm's proprietary, quick and clean, In-Situ Thermal Desorption (ISTD) process. Because of the robust and predictable nature of ISTD's heating and contaminant removal mechanisms, low residential goals were easily achieved. This allowed the City of Richmond (the owner of the property) to negotiate a $5M increase in the selling price (from $8M to $13M). The total project cost, including the cost of power (2.6M kWh @ $0.16 per kWh), was $2.1M. Thus, achieving low residential standards throughout the treatment zone using ISTD, resulted in a net gain in property value and revenue of ~$3M for the City of Richmond.
The City of Richmond financed the remedial effort via a loan from the California Environmental Redevelopment Fund (CERF, www.ca-cerf.com) backed by remediation cost-cap insurance from ACE Environmental Risk/ACE INA (www.ace-ina.com). The insurance provider stated that they "would not have been able to insure the remedial effort if it had been based on excavation due to the unpredictable nature of remedial excavation projects and the high rate of claims associated with such efforts". The client, insurer, and oversight consultant (Geomatrix, Inc. of Oakland, CA) all indicated that they were very happy with the results of the project: constructed and treated on-time, completed within budget, no insurance claims, no complaints from near-by residences, achieved remedial goals, and very impressed with the high level of professional and technical competence of the TerraTherm team.
The next phase of the project involves construction of ~300 desirable waterside residential units. The resulting tax revenues once the development is complete are expected to total more than $15M annually for the City of Richmond.
The project was completed for the City of Richmond's Redevelopment Authority. The property had been used since the turn of the century as a bulk storage and transfer terminal when it consisted of a pier, large warehouse, numerous above ground storage tanks, and supporting buildings and piping. Ships would dock at the pier and transfer cargo and materials to/from the warehouse and tank farm. A large variety of solvents, fuel oils, and food grade oils were stored in the above ground tanks. Leaks associated with the handling and transfer of the materials resulted in direct releases to the subsurface. Materials present in the subsurface included fuel oils and chlorinated solvents, including perchloroethene (PCE), trichloroethene (TCE), cis-1,2-DCE, and vinyl chloride (VC).
Subsurface materials consisted of bay mud, which was dredged from the bay and used to create the land for the terminal. The upper 2 to 3 feet across the site consisted of coarse fill. The bay mud underlying the fill is under consolidated, has a high porosity and is saturated. The water table is generally located at ~3 ft below the ground surface (bgs). The treatment depth, as determined by pre-treatment characterization, extended to 20 ft bgs. The total volume of soils treated was approximately 7,000 cy.
In 2005, TerraTherm completed a novel MGP site cleanup under a performance-based contract with National Grid at their facility in North Adams, MA. The site was a former Manufactured Gas Plant (MGP) facility operated by the North Adams Gas Light Company in the late 1800s and early 1900s. A 62-ft diameter by 18-ft deep gasholder tank, located entirely below grade, contained soil, debris, and coal tar, but National Grid had not been able to recover significant quantities of the coal tar and needed to clean the tank to state standards. The usual approach for such sites is to dig them up and dispose of the soil and waste off-site; however, National Grid selected TerraTherm's ISTD technology as less expensive and much greener than excavation. TerraTherm demonstrated that their choice was well justified!
After dewatering the gasholder, TerraTherm applied ISTD to eliminate the dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL) coal tar and proceeded to remediate the gasholder using a tailored heating approach, thereby achieving soil cleanup standards protective of groundwater, all without excavation.
We first installed 25 thermal wells and employed gentle heating (~80°C) for thermally enhanced DNAPL recovery, producing over 16,000 gallons of coal tar/emulsion. This was significant, as the client had expected us to be able to recover several hundred gallons at the most. We then raised the heating temperatures to attain the project goals, which a risk assessment had determined to be distinctly different above versus below 15 ft depth (the limit of construction worker exposure). Within the mid-section (above 15 ft depth), we achieved temperatures of 615°F to volatilize, boil, pyrolyze and oxidize the Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). This is our classic ISTD approach. Within the bottom portion of the gasholder (15-18 ft depth), we attained more moderate temperatures of 212°F (the boiling point of water) to remove the DNAPL. In the process we vaporized the benzene and naphthalene from the entire gasholder. Overall the extracted vapor contained 165,000 lb expressed as naphthalene, which we treated in an aboveground thermal oxidizer to meet the required air emissions standards.
Within the mid-section of the gasholder, elevated heating produced the following significant reductions in soil concentrations (mg/kg) that more than met the required standards at the site: benzene - 2068 to 0.35; naphthalene - 679 to 5.7; and benzo(a)pyrene - 20 to 0.33. Within the lower portion, more moderate heating was sufficient to remove all the DNAPL, as required. In fact the residual material looked much like asphalt - it was dry, brittle, and the benzene and naphthalene concentrations were reduced by over 99.5%! National Grid judged the turnkey cost ($850,000 for ISTD) to be less than the excavation alternative. TerraTherm conducted the project under a guaranteed performance contract, meeting all the remedial goals. We will co-present these results with our National Grid client at the upcoming MGP2006 Conference in Reading, UK in April 2006, and at the Battelle Monterey Conference in May 2006. Please contact us to see how we can apply our tailored heating approach to your MGP site!
TerraTherm made two oral presentations at the Eighth International In Situ and On-Site Bioremediation Symposium, Baltimore, MD. Both papers focus on thermal enhancements to relatively inexpensive remedial technologies. The first summarizes work performed at the Technical University of Denmark on microbial survival and CVOC degradation after thermal treatment. The second presents thermal enhancements to existing, inefficient systems such as SVE, pump and treat, chemical oxidation, and bioremediation.
TerraTherm has negotiated a license for implementation of Steam Enhanced Extraction (SEE) through the Office of Technology Licensing at University of California (UC). Now, we are able to offer thermal remediation for more permeable sites, using the SEE technology developed at UC, and implemented at 8 sites by Dr. Heron while he worked for SteamTech. This expands our offering to almost any site contaminated by organics. Particularly, we can combine SEE and ISTD to offer complete and effective heating of complex sites with significant volumes of both tight layers (clay, shale, rock) and permeable zones (sand, gravel, weathered rock).
TerraTherm's Ralph S. Baker presented papers entitled, "In-Situ Delivery of Heat by Thermal Conduction for Improved DNAPL Remediation" and "In-Situ Thermal Remediation at a Former Manufactured Gas Plant Site." TerraTherm's John Bierschenk presented a paper entitled, "Full-Scale ISTD Treatment at Former Alhambra, California Pole Yard Site." All papers were presented at the Fourth International Conference on Remediation of Chlorinated and Recalcitrant Compounds in Monterey, California.
Thermally Enhanced Soil Vapor Extraction (TESVE) may be used to accelerate site closure where SVE systems have operated for a long time, without the site approaching its cleanup standards. Simple placement of heater borings in between existing SVE wells, and a slow and controlled heating of the recalcitrant soil layers, allows the mass removal rates to peak, and then taper off to low levels as the source zone has been depleted. This leads to closure of SVE sites within a 1 to 3 year period. We are implementing TESVE at a site in Los Angeles, California, with encouraging results. Unit treatment costs are a fraction of typical ISTD costs for similar treatment volumes.
TerraTherm, Inc. of Fitchburg, MA recently completed a successful cleanup of three separate areas at an active manufacturing facility located in the Midwest for a confidential client using it's Thermal Conduction Heating (TCH) technology, also known as In-Situ Thermal Desorption (ISTD). The facility was contaminated with Chlorinated Volatile Organic Compounds (CVOCs), including Dense Non Aqueous Phase Liquids (DNAPL), due to historic releases of spent solvents to a gravel parking lot and wastewater basin. The parking lot was paved in the 1980's and the wastewater basin was filled in with native soil in the 1990's.
The geology underlying the site generally consisted of very dense, glacially derived and fractured, clays and tills down to a depth of approximately 18 feet. The bulk matrix permeability of the till was 10-8 cm/s. The tills were underlain by a permeable sand and gravel unit. Although the tills were generally unsaturated (the regional water table was in the sand unit ~30 feet below the ground surface), there was a perched water table within the former wastewater basin (~3 feet below ground surface).
The total volume of soil remediated within the three source zones was 10,950 cubic yards (8,372 m3). The results indicate that attaining an interwell soil temperature of 210°F (99°C), the boiling point of water at the site, was effective in reducing CVOCs from maximum pre-treatment concentrations for trichloroethene (TCE) of 4,130 mg/kg to 0.07 mg/kg (average of 54 samples). When compared with the average pretreatment concentration for TCE of 99.74 mg/kg, this is equivalent to a >99.9% reduction in soil concentrations. The client's post-treatment sampling results indicated that all three treatment zones, even the saturated wastewater basin area, were significantly below the remedial goal for TCE of 1 mg/kg. Effective treatment of the wastewater basin area was achieved following removal of only a fraction of the water present. These results were achieved after 150 days of soil heating and provided the basis for a No Further Action (NFA) letter for soils at the site.
TerraTherm feels that ISTD/TCH heating is well suited to sites with CVOCs/DNAPLs and where low remedial standards must be met. In addition, sites with existing Soil Vapor Extraction (SVE) systems may be ideally suited for thermal enhancement and rapid closure using TCH. For more information, please contact John LaChance, Program Manager, TerraTherm, Inc., tel. (978) 343-0300.
March 31, 2004
Fitchburg, MA. TerraTherm, Inc., a leading in-situ thermal remediation technology firm, is pleased to announce that Dr. Gorm Heron has joined the company as Vice President - Senior Scientist/Engineer, based in Bakersfield, California. Gorm is well known as an expert practitioner of in-situ thermal remediation (ISTR) focusing on the design, operation and evaluation of Steam-Enhanced Extraction (SEE) and Dynamic Underground Stripping (DUS) technologies at DNAPL sites. He also has experience across the broad range of non-thermal in situ remediation technologies.
Gorm comes to TerraTherm after over 6 years working as Principal Environmental Engineer with SteamTech Environmental Services, Inc. based in Bakersfield, CA. During this period, he served as their technical leader on numerous ground-breaking pilot- and full-scale SEE and DUS remediation projects, including the Visalia Pole Yard, Visalia, CA; Loring Air Force Base, Limestone, ME; Edwards Air Force Base, Edwards, CA; and the Young-Rainey STAR Center, Largo, GL. He also has provided technical support to several interagency advisory panels sponsored by branches of the US government. He has published articles on groundwater science, changes in groundwater and contaminant behavior associated with subsurface heating, and in situ thermal remediation.
Gorm earned his M.S and Ph.D. degrees at the Technical University of Denmark, was a Post-Doctoral Researcher at USEPA's Robert S. Kerr Environmental Research Laboratory in Ada, OK, and was an Engineering Research Assistant at the UC-Berkeley Environmental Research Center, Berkeley, CA.
With TerraTherm, Gorm will contribute to the development and ongoing implementation of our In Situ Thermal Desorption (ISTD) technology, as well as the expansion of TerraTherm's services to include complementary in situ thermal remediation technologies such as combined ISTD/SEE for treatment of mixed-stratigraphy sites.
Dr. Heron is one of the most highly respected ISTR researchers and practitioners. We are very excited to have him on our team!
For more information, please contact Ralph S. Baker, Ph.D., CEO and Technology Manager at (978) 343-0300.
TerraTherm's Ralph S. Baker presented a paper entitled, "Full-Scale Application of In-Situ Thermal Destruction of MGP Waste in a Former Gas Holder," at the Natural Gas Technologies II Conference and Exhibition in Phoenix, Arizona.
April 28, 2003
The New England Innovation Awards program, awarded by the Small Business Association of New England (SBANE), has chosen TerraTherm, Inc. as one of only fourteen finalists to receive this year's innovation award. SBANE recognizes companies that are not only successful but that also have shown innovation. The yearly awards program has been honoring innovative small businesses since 1986 and this year's finalists were chosen from a field of 92.
For more information on the awards, please go to: http://www.bizjournals.com
Boston, January 10, 2003 – TerraTherm, Inc. of Fitchburg, MA recently entered into a License Agreement with Shell International Exploration and Production Inc. of Houston, TX. Under this agreement Shell has granted TerraTherm exclusive international rights to the In-Situ Thermal Desorption (ISTD) technology, which is a technology that cleans soils without the need to excavate. These rights were granted for the cleanup of soil contaminants that do not occur naturally. With this new agreement, TerraTherm announces its entrance into the international environmental marketplace.
ISTD is a revolutionary soil remediation technology that combines conductive heating and vapor extraction of contaminated soil. ISTD has the unique capability of achieving stringent cleanup goals for a full range of organic contaminants, such as industrial waste, petroleum spills, electrical transformer fluid and dry cleaning/solvents. TerraTherm installs its electric heating elements within the contaminated zone and operates them at temperatures as high as 1400ºF while imposing a vacuum on the heated soil. Hot gases are collected by the vacuum system and then treated by state-of-the-art air treatment equipment. ISTD has treated highly contaminated soils (all soil types can be treated equally well) to below laboratory detection limits without requiring any excavation. Past clients have included both the U.S. government and major industrial firms. Among TerraTherm’s current major U.S. projects is the remediation of a two-acre former wood treatment facility owned by Southern California Edison Company, Alhambra, CA. This site is contaminated with a mix of PAHs and dioxins, and Edison has selected ISTD as the most cost-effective method available to return its site to unrestricted use.
Invented and initially commercialized by Shell in the late 1990s, ISTD has been used successfully at a variety of hazardous waste sites within the U.S., including sites contaminated with PCBs, chlorinated solvents and fuel oil/gasoline. Shell donated the U.S. rights to the ISTD technology to the University of Texas at Austin, which in 2000 granted TerraTherm the exclusive license to commercialize ISTD within the U.S. TerraTherm has since grown in both staff and resources and now has offices in Fitchburg, MA and Houston, TX, with current projects throughout the U.S.
TerraTherm has already initiated international marketing of ISTD through an agreement with SheGoTec Japan, Inc., and has been fielding numerous inquiries from around the world. According to Ralph S. Baker, Ph.D., TerraTherm’s CEO, “the rate of growth of the soil and groundwater remediation sector outside the U.S. is outpacing domestic growth. Key factors are reduction of environmental liabilities, conversion of former industrial sites to productive use, and governmental requirements. We see great interest in our technology both here and abroad.”
Tuesday, January 30, 2001
By Jim Bodor
Telegram & Gazette Staff
FITCHBURG-- TerraTherm Inc. is one hot company. TerraTherm, which heats contaminated soil to more than 800 degrees Celsius to remove pollutants, has received a $2.25 million venture capital investment, the company announced yesterday.
Bison Capital LLC, a venture firm in Venice, Fla., is the lead investor in the deal, contributing $1.5 million. The rest will come from the Massachusetts Technology Development Corp., a quasi-public agency that invests in Massachusetts-based companies. “We liked this deal because it's what we call a green-green deal,” said Carol C. Brennan, Central Massachusetts business development consultant for MTDC. “What they do is good for the environment, and they'll make money.”
TerraTherm, located in a refurbished mill at 356 Broad St., was founded a year ago by Ralph S. Baker and John M. Bierschenk, two environmental consultants who wanted to take advantage of a new technology sitting unused at the University of Texas at Austin. The technology combines the use of heat and vacuums to remove toxins such as fuel oils, creosote, PCBs and solvents from land, without excavating. Electric heaters are placed in wells up to 20 feet deep throughout a property. The heat breaks down the pollutants into gases that are then collected by vacuums. Waste products are screened and removed, leaving clean gases that can be vented into the atmosphere.
Shell Technology Ventures Inc. of Houston, a subsidiary of Shell Oil Co., invented and patented the system, and used it successfully on seven projects, Mr. Baker said. In 1999, Shell decided against pursuing the waste-removal business, and donated the technology to The University of Texas at Austin, he said. Mr. Baker and Mr. Bierschenk were working for an environmental consulting firm in Acton when they learned the technology might be available through the university. They persuaded school officials to license the technology to them.
TerraTherm will use its venture funding to perform four projects, Mr. Baker said. The projects are:
-cleaning tar-contaminated soil at a public utility in Lake Charles, La.
-removing creosote from a wood-treating site run by Southern California Edison in Alhambra, Calif.
-removing solvent from a manufacturing site in Tacoma, Wash.
-removing pesticides from the Rocky Mountain Arsenal outside Denver beginning in July.
-The last site is the largest Superfund site overseen by the U.S. Department of Defense, Mr. Baker said. -It measures 55 feet by 105 feet, and it is 12 feet deep. TerraTherm will clean 2,500 cubic yards of contaminated soil. The work will take until March 2002 to complete.
Each of the projects will cost $3 million to $5 million, Mr. Baker said. TerraTherm will use its venture capital to hire subcontractors and the employees it needs to do the work, he said. TerraTherm employs seven, including the two founders. The experience of its founders and the demand for its services made TerraTherm an attractive investment, Ms. Brennan said.
Mr. Baker, chief executive officer and technology manager, is a soil physicist who has written engineering manuals for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He has led more than 100 hazardous waste cleanup projects. Mr. Bierschenk, president, has worked 20 years in hazardous waste remediation.
“They have a solid management team, proven technology, and the ability to ramp it up into a larger business,” Ms. Brennan said. “This is a good example of the type of deals we'd like to make in Central Massachusetts.”
TerraTherm, Inc. is a worldwide leader in the development and
implementation of in situ thermal remediation of source zones and
hazardous waste. We design, build and operate projects from concept
to closure, using Thermal Conduction Heating (TCH), Steam Enhanced
Extraction (SEE) and Electrical Resistance Heating (ERH). With offices
in Gardner, MA, Keene, CA, and Atlanta, GA, and licensees such
as Kruger A/S (Denmark and Sweden), AIG Engineering, Ltd. (UK),
and SheGoTec (Japan), we offer services worldwide. For more information,
Learn More About Thermal Remediation