Technology Spotlight | Column Studies Performance Assessment Under Flowing Conditions

Technology Spotlight | Column Studies Performance Assessment Under Flowing Conditions

Laboratory treatability studies are commonly performed to evaluate and optimize remedial options prior to field implementation for a wide variety of contaminants including chlorinated solvents, semi-volatile organic compounds, petroleum hydrocarbons, metals and emerging contaminants. These studies are commonly performed in batch microcosms or continuous flow columns. Column studies performed by SiREM offer the advantages of simulating groundwater movement through aquifer media or a permeable reactive barrier (PRB). Column studies are ideal for understanding the impact of groundwater flow on distribution of contaminants and amendments as well as the impact of geochemical gradients, for example redox, which can vary along the flow path. These factors can often have significant impacts on remediation processes and success.

Column studies are used to evaluate technical approaches including:

  • Bioremediation processes
  • Zero-valent iron (ZVI) PRB’s
  • Surfactant flushing
  • In situ chemical oxidation
  • Combined technologies

SiREM Lab Technician Alicia Quintanilla is pictured sampling ZVI columns used to compare the effectiveness of different ZVI products and determine design parameters for a ZVI PRB.

Column studies are used to determine design parameters such as:

  • Product Selection/Dosing: Compare amendments for optimal performance/lowest cost
  • Degradation Rates: To assist with predictions of field performance/clean-up times
  • PRB Design Thickness: Determined using the residence time required for treatment and the expected groundwater flow velocity
  • Treatment Longevity: To assess site-specific potential for passivation and fouling of ZVI or other amendments
  • Metals Immobilization: Assess stability of precipitated metal complexes under changing conditions
  • Amendment Sequencing: To simulate effectiveness of sequential applications (e.g., ISCO/Bio – aerobic /anaerobic) SiREM’s technical experts are veterans in the design and operation of column studies, providing high quality reporting and scientifically grounded analysis to maximize the utility and interpretability of data.

For more information on how column studies can be used to optimize remediation design parameters prior to field implementation contact Jeff Roberts ( or call 519-515-0840.