U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights


Hydrogel-Encapsulated Soil: A New Tool to Measure Contaminant-Soil Interactions in the Subsurface
Published: April 26, 2010
Posted: May 05, 2010

Measuring the transformation of contaminants such as radionuclides and heavy metals in the subsurface over time remains an important but difficult challenge. A team of scientists from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has developed a novel and powerful approach for encapsulating soils and sediments in polyacrylamide hydrogels called PELCAPs. The PELCAPs can be placed in the subsurface for extended periods of time, readily retrieved, and non-destructively assayed to observe and measure many water-solid contaminant interactions under natural groundwater flow conditions. The team showed that when PELCAPs were placed in a subsurface environment with uranium contaminated groundwater, uranium was adsorbed by the soils in the PELCAPs. The PELCAPs could be resampled over several years, the transformation of uranium-contaminated soil could be readily determined, and the hydrogel remained inert and fully functional. Finally, many different soils (limestone, Portland cement paste, activated charcoal and other materials) could be encapsulated for extended periods of time in the hydrogel. PELCAPs represent an important new tool for measuring contaminant-soil interactions in the subsurface.

Reference: Spalding, B., S.C. Brooks and D.B. Watson. 2010. "Hydrogel-Encapsulated Soil: A Tool to measure Contaminant Attenuation In Situ." Environmental Science & Technology 44(8):3-47-3051.

Contact: Paul E. Bayer, SC-23.1, (301) 903-5324
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Subsurface Biogeochemical Research

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER

 

BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)