Full Steam Ahead - Former Williams Air Force Base, Mesa, Arizona
In-Pile Thermal Desorption® (IPTD®) Animation at Danang Airport, Vietnam
In February 2013, the U.S. Agency for International Development awarded a $37M contract to TerraTherm to carry out thermal remediation of dioxin at Vietnam’s Danang Airport. TerraTherm’s remediation technology is playing a vital role in the U.S.-funded project’s efforts to clean up dioxin contamination in areas of Danang airport where herbicides were stored and handled during the U.S.-Vietnam War. USAID is working in close coordination with the Government of Vietnam and other contractors to implement this ongoing project through 2016.
USAID selected TerraTherm’s In-Pile Thermal Desorption® (IPTD®) technology for treatment of approximately 73,000 cubic meters (95,000 cubic yards) of soil and sediment at Danang Airport. The IPTD® approach involves placing contaminated soil and sediment within an above-ground, covered and fully insulated treatment pile structure, and then heating each batch of soil over several months to destroy the dioxin. Once implemented, the technology can safely and effectively treat the soil to the required Vietnamese cleanup levels, as has been demonstrated at similarly-sized projects in the United States. TerraTherm is working with Krüger/VWS-VN to implement the project.
United Nations honors TerraTherm with Invitation to Exhibit at the First Annual Summit for UNEP
Our Co-Founder and Chairman Ralph Baker, Ph.D., was invited to represent TerraTherm at the Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GMEF) in Nairobi, Kenya between the 18th and 22nd of February 2013. This annual summit is hosted by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), as the primary forum for Energy and Environment Ministers, permanent Secretaries, Cabinet Officials and other delegates from over 140 countries to discuss the latest issues relating to the global environment. GMEF hosted a 'Sustainable Innovation Expo' for the fourth time at this forum, which showcased innovative technologies from 12 private sector organizations that can assist governments and their populations in progressing to more sustainable communities, infrastructures and economies (climateactionprogramme.org). Other companies exhibiting included GE, Microsoft, Phillips and Oracle.
TerraTherm was invited to present our innovative cleanup technologies to some of the world's most senior and influential environmental policy makers. Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and Mercury were a major topic at the forum and the robustness of TerraTherm's ISTD and IPTD® technologies positions them as among the most promising remedial methods available for such cleanups. A special focus was on the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which will be finalized this fall in Japan. It will trigger global efforts to minimize and control mercury in Earth's Environment.
Dr. Baker had this to say, "It was quite an experience and truly an honor to participate in this global meeting of environment leaders. UNEP has many ongoing initiatives related to POPs and Mercury, and TerraTherm offers solutions that resonated well with numerous delegates."
Sustainable Innovation Expo 2013 Highlights Video
A Brief Visual Timeline of TerraTherm's Success
This video supplements a blog post on www.terratherm.com/blog, and is meant to serve as a visual timeline of some of TerraTherm's greatest successes according to co-founder, Dr. Ralph Baker.
Worcster Telegram and Gazette Profile on President and CEO, John Bierschenk
Sunday, April 21, 2013
Launched in 2000, TerraTherm uses thermal technologies to extract and remove toxic chemicals from properties. The company relocated to a larger facility in Gardner last May, after 12 years in Fitchburg. It has 35 employees in Gardner who do corporate finance and accounting, marketing, engineering, project management and equipment fabrication. Thirty more TerraTherm employees work at construction sites where projects are underway in Florida, New Jersey and, most recently, in Vietnam, where the company is cleaning up hot spots of Dioxin.
Can you tell me a little bit about your own background and how you found your way to TerraTherm and thermal remediation?
"I'm a geologist by undergraduate and graduate training. I graduated back in the late '70s and went to work in the oil and gas field doing oil and gas exploration as an exploration geophysicist. … In the mid '80s, the oil and gas business went through a bad downturn, and I got into the environmental consulting field, because it was really kind of up-and-coming at that time. ... We were approached by our managers to look into a new technology that had been starting to become available, called ISTD, or in situ thermal desorption. It is a technology that Shell Exploration & Production Co. developed out of its enhanced oil recovery research facility in Houston, Texas.
" ... So (TerraTherm business partner) Ralph (Baker) and I were able to secure an exclusive license from the University of Texas in Austin, to which Shell had donated the intellectual property, about 26 patents. That was in January of 2000, and that's when we started TerraTherm LLC, to commercialize this ISTD technology on behalf of the University of Texas."
Can you describe the in situ thermal desorption process to a layperson?
"Basically, TerraTherm offers and deploys three different in situ thermal technologies that all do the same thing, but applied to different subsurface settings. In general, what we do is we heat the soil and the water that's in the soil and we vacuum out, with surface suction devices, the gases and the steam that get generated during the process. … And then above ground, we treat whatever comes out of the ground, scrub it and use various technologies to purify the gas, so that what we discharge into the atmosphere is basically within the regulatory standards and laws that govern these kinds of things."
What types of clients do you work with and what are their specific needs?
"We work for mostly Fortune 50 industrial clients who have properties that they owned and operated out of for numbers of years and either sold, orphaned or continue to operate. And these are chemical companies, technology companies; they are U.S. government facilities, of course. ... We work for developers who have properties that have high value but are contaminated and need to be remediated, because when they're remediated they have much higher value. They call it brownfields redevelopment.
"And then we work for the utility companies that have manufactured gas plants, which are contaminated with a tarry, oily waste that is a legacy of the turn of the (19th) century when utilities used to create gas from coal to create gas for towns to use, for lights, for stoves. And we work for international companies as well.
" ... Back in the day, it was permissible for companies to dispose of spent chemicals in open pits or lagoons on their properties. That was acceptable until the Superfund laws were written in the early '80s."
Are there other applications for this technology that you are considering taking advantage of in the future?
"One application that's new that we're using the technology on is we're treating soils above the ground, in piles, because sometimes contamination is very thinly distributed over a big area, and it's not effective to put in a lot of shallow heaters. It's very expensive to do that. But if you put the soil into a pile, you now can basically replicate what we do in the ground by piling this stuff up. And an example of this is a groundbreaking project that we designed last year and are now under contract to implement in Da Nang, Vietnam, where we're treating Dioxin that's been left over from the Vietnam War."