Patexia. Research

Patent 06145244 - Methods for enhancing phytoextraction of contaminants from porous media using electrokinetic phenomena > Claims

  • 1. A method for removing a contaminant from a contaminated porous medium, comprising:nproviding a layer of a supplemental porous medium over the contaminated porous medium;nproviding a plant with roots extending into the supplemental porous medium, wherein the plant is capable of accumulating the contaminant;napplying an electric field between the contaminated porous medium and the supplemental porous medium so that the contaminant is electrokinetically transported through the contaminated porous medium upwardly into the supplemental porous medium; andnmaintaining the supplemental porous medium around the roots at a pH between about 3 and about 10.
    • 2. The method of claim 1, wherein the electrokinetic transport is electroosmosis, electromigration, dielectrophoresis or combinations thereof.
    • 3. The method of claim 1, further comprising:nmaintaining the supplemental porous medium in a region around the roots at a pH between about 4 and about 8.
    • 4. The method of claim 1, further comprising:nmaintaining the pH of the porous medium under the applied electric field to enhance extraction of contaminants from the contaminated porous medium to the plants.
    • 5. The method of claim 1, wherein the electric field is applied between one or more anodes and one or more cathodes, and farther comprising:nadding acid to the cathode.
    • 6. The method of claim 1, wherein the electric field is applied between one or more anodes and one or more cathodes, and further comprising:nadding base to the anode.
    • 7. The method of claim 1, further comprising:nperiodically reversing the polarity of the anodes and cathodes in the porous medium.
    • 8. The method of claim 1, wherein a major portion of the contaminant is below the roots.
    • 9. The method of claim 1, wherein the electrokinetic transport comprises counter-gravitational electrokinetic transport of the contaminant.
    • 10. The method of claim 1, wherein the electrokinetic transport comprises counter-gravitational electroosmosis.
    • 11. The method of claim 1, further comprising:npositioning one or more anodes in the contaminated porous medium and one or more cathodes in the supplemental porous medium for applying the electric field.
      • 12. The method of claim 11, wherein the contaminants are located in a contaminated region of the contaminated porous medium, the method further comprising:npositioning the one or more anodes below the contaminated region, wherein the electric field applied between the one or more anodes and the one or more cathodes extends through at least a portion of the contaminated region.
      • 13. The method of claim 11, further comprising:npositioning one or more electrodes in the supplemental porous medium around the plants and one or more electrodes in the contaminated porous medium.
      • 15. The method of claim 11, further comprising:nproviding one or more wells in the contaminated porous medium for housing an anode or a cathode.
      • 16. The method of claim 11, wherein the one or more anodes and the one or more cathodes are inserted directly into the contaminated porous medium.
    • 14. The method of claim 1, further comprising:npositioning electrodes in the contaminated porous medium for applying the electric field; andnelectrokinetically transporting the contaminant from a lower region to an upper region.
    • 17. The method of claim 1, wherein the supplemental porous medium supports plant growth.
    • 18. The method of claim 1, wherein the supplemental porous medium is soil, sediment, sludge, composted material, or combinations thereof.
    • 19. The method of claim 1, wherein the contaminant comprises an ionic contaminant.
    • 20. The method of claim 1, wherein the contaminant comprises a heavy metal.
    • 21. The method of claim 1, wherein the contaminant is a heavy metal, and the heavy metal is lead, chromium, cadmium, nickel, copper, cesium, uranium, technetium, or combinations thereof.
    • 22. The method of claim 1, wherein the contaminant comprises a non-ionic contaminant.
    • 23. The method of claim 1, wherein the contaminant is a non-charged organic molecule, hydrocarbon, chlorinated hydrocarbon, polyaromatic hydrocarbon, or combinations thereof.
    • 24. The method of claim 1, wherein the contaminated porous medium does not support plant growth and supplemental porous medium does support plant growth.
    • 25. The method of claim 1, wherein the contaminated porous medium is clay.
    • 26. The method of claim 1, wherein the supplemental porous medium is sand, silt, large-pore soil, sediment, sludge, composted material, or combinations thereof.
    • 27. The method of claim 1, further comprising:nelectrokinetically transporting nutrients to the roots.
    • 28. The method of claim 1, further comprising:nelectroosmotically transporting water to the roots.
      • 29. The method of claim 28, wherein the water is drawn from a water source within the contaminated porous medium.
    • 30. The method of claim 1, wherein the electrokinetic transport of the contaminants is started before providing the plants.
    • 31. The method of claim 1, further comprising:nallowing the plants to achieve a certain mass before applying the electric field.
    • 32. The method of claim 1, further comprising:nextracting the contaminants from the supplemental porous medium into the roots; andnharvesting the plants.
    • 33. The method of claim 1, wherein the electric field is a non-uniform electric field.
      • 34. The method of claim 33, wherein the non-uniform electric field is pulsed direct current, alternating current, or combinations thereof.
    • 35. The method of claim 1, further comprising:npositioning one or more cathodes in the contaminated porous medium and one or more anodes in the supplemental porous medium for applying the electric field.
      • 36. The method of claim 35, wherein the contaminants are located in a contaminated region of the contaminated porous medium, the method further comprising:npositioning the one or more cathodes below the contaminated region, wherein the electric field applied between the one or more anodes and the one or more cathodes extends through at least a portion of the contaminated region.
    • 44. The method of claim 1, wherein the contaminated porous medium does not support plant growth.
  • 37. A method for removing a contaminant from a contaminated region below the surface of soil, comprising:nproviding a layer of a supplemental porous medium over a contaminated porous medium;nproviding a plant with roots extending into the porous medium, wherein the plant is capable of accumulating the contaminant;npositioning one or more electrodes having a first polarity above the contaminated region in the supplemental porous medium and extending one or more electrodes having a second polarity below the contaminated region to provide counter-gravitational contaminant transport, wherein the electric field encompasses the contaminated region;napplying an electric field between the one or more electrodes having a first polarity and the one or more electrodes having a second polarity so that the contaminant is electrokinetically transported counter-gravitationally to the roots of the plant.
    • 38. The method of claim 37, further comprising:nestimating a time period when the plants will have achieved a desired plant mass for accumulating metal;nmeasuring the depth of the contaminated region; andncontrolling the electric field to provide counter-gravitational electrokinetic transport of contaminants at a desired rate so that the contaminants reach the roots during the time period.
      • 40. The method of claim 38, further comprising:nturning off the electric field when the plants reach their maximum contaminant accumulation capacity;nharvesting the plants from the soil;ngrowing new plants in the soil;nafter a time period when the new plants will have achieved a desired plant mass for accumulating metal, turning the electric field back on.
        • 41. The method of claim 40, further comprising repeating the steps of claim 40.
    • 39. The method of claim 37, wherein the contaminated region is inaccessible to the roots of the plants.
    • 42. The method of claim 37, wherein the one or more electrodes having a first polarity is horizontal.
    • 43. The method of claim 37, further comprising:nperiodically reversing the polarity of the electrodes.