The UPSOIL project, funded under the European 7th FP, has allowed its Consortium to bring the future to present in the soil and groundwater remediation field, introducing some new groundbreaking concepts.
We started working in an area, that of soil remediation, which while not particularly novel (soil remediation, as an alternative to dig&dump or pump&treat, has been active in Europe since 1990s), it found difficulties in making some room for itself in the Market, due mainly to its high costs and execution times, but also due to the lack of expertise and knowledge on the technology applied and its long term effects in the natural medium.
During the past three years, the UPSOIL project has tried with success - now in its end stage we can admit it - to knock down some of these barriers by introducing novel and interesting ideas. Among these, for instance, the smart combination of already existing biological and chemical technologies, finding synergies between them and boosting their effectiveness, leaving behind the former idea of one contaminant-one technique; the development of new packed oxidants (in a mineral or organic protecting layer) avoiding the reaction with the soil matrix components and reducing their consumption, with consequent reduced treatment costs and duration; or a highly innovative technology where contaminants detection and the in situ treatment are mechanically combined so that the in situ treatment results in a cost-effective and sustainable approach for the delivery of remedial reactants.
All these new initiatives have been put into practice in the laboratory and on various testing sites throughout Europe (Poland, Flanders, Germany, Austria, Spain), in other words, in real situations.
The results of the project have led to the development of the following:
- methods and procedures for coupling current soil remediation technologies and making them more profitable;
- methodologies designed to evaluate the total effect of soil upgrading on the sustainability and viability of the soil's natural biota;
- methods for predicting the collateral effects on heavy metals by upgrading organic compounds;
- new technologies for the combined detection and treatment of organic compounds;
- improved reagents for selective decontamination;
- new computing methods and tools for real time monitoring of a wide range ISCO of remediation processes.
Totally fifteen partners with different profiles participated in the project: six R+D centres (Tecnalia, VITO-MPT, Deltares/TNO, IETU, ECOIND, SGI), one university (WUR), seven SMEs (ENACON, ECOREM-Baltic, Dekonta, POWIZ, Ejlskov, RDS, Biutec) and a building contractor (Geocisa), all from ten different European countries geographically widely distributed.
Following three years' worth of fruitful research, the project has been brought to a conclusion with some very satisfactory results that made possible the making of an external results exploitation plan. Among these a patent application has already being submitted and accepted in the patenting office.
These and other aspects, the results of the project and their implications for the future are described in detail on our UPSOIL web site: www.upsoil.eu. You are warmly invited to visit and enjoy it and of course, to share your experience and impressions on the UPSOIL project with us!