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Driving Environmental Innovation for DoD

The Department of Defense (DoD) has a long history of supporting research and development for new innovations to address environmental challenges. For more than 20 years, Battelle has been a trusted collaborator to help bring new technologies and methods out of the lab and into the field. Battelle is pleased to continue this work with several new projects assigned under DoD’s Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program (SERDP) and Environmental Security Technology Certification Program (ESTCP).

Recent projects include:

  • Assessment of Post Remediation Performance of a Biobarrier Oxygen Injection System at an MTBE Contaminated Site (ER-201588): This ESTCP project, to be completed in collaboration with the U.S. Navy, will evaluate long-term performance of a two-tiered biobarrier system previously used at a military base to treat methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) in groundwater. The system used pure oxygen injection/sparging to create a two-tiered biobarrier approach. The project will evaluate (1) whether microbial activity as a result of the biobarrier continues to support attenuation of residual MTBE at the site, and (2) if clogging of the aquifer by excess biomass has influenced plume migration and the resulting widening in the neck of the plume. Researchers will use advanced microbiological tools (proteomics and metagenomics) and existing site information to achieve these objectives. The project is led by Dr. Kate Kucharzyk (Battelle) and Kenda Neil (Naval Facilities Engineering Command and Expeditionary Warfare Center).
  • Abiotic Transformation of Chloroethenes in Low Permeability Formations (ER-2622): Battelle is collaborating with Clemson University on a three-year SERDP project to study biotic and abiotic transformation of a site contaminated with chlorinated ethenes, a persistent toxic pollutant. The project is led by Dr. Ramona Darlington (Battelle) and Dr. David Freedman (Clemson University). The goals of the study are to (1) determine if geochemical modeling can be used for identification of sites that have a high potential for abiotic transformation of chlorinated ethenes; (2) determine if laboratory studies can accurately predict the likelihood of in situ abiotic transformation of chlorinated ethenes using a protocol involving intact rock core microcosms, under conditions that simulate natural attenuation and in response to amendments; (3) determine if geophysical techniques can assess the potential for abiotic degradation based on sensitivity to magnetite and iron sulfide minerals in the rock matrix, using a protocol involving correlation of geophysical measurements and results of microcosm experiments; and (4) determine if using in situ passive vapor diffusion (PVD) samplers can greatly enhance the detection of acetylene in groundwater, the key abiotic chlorinated ethene degradation product. Battelle is working with the Navy to identify sites, obtain site data, and obtain core samples and is leading geochemical modeling efforts and core analysis. This work will allow the U.S. Army and Navy to identify sites with a high potential for abiotic transformation of chlorinated ethenes and select remediation options to accelerate the natural processes.
  • Impacts on Groundwater Quality Following the Application of ISCO: Understanding the Cause of and Designing Mitigation for Metals Mobilization (ER-2132): This recently completed study, led by Deepti Nair (Battelle) and Dr. Kevin Gardner (University of New Hampshire), evaluated the potential of in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) to reduce the potential liability and health risks related to organic contaminants. While ISCO is known to be effective for organic contaminant removal, it can result in significant release of metals and metalloids in groundwater, which create their own ecological and human health risks. The study examined three common ISCO treatments to develop a predictive understanding of metal and metalloid release. Researchers developed a geochemical model of metal release, experimentally evaluated the fate of the metals released, and designed potential remediation measures. They then evaluated the efficacy of pre-, co- and post-treatment mitigation options and developed a guidance document for the environmental remediation community.
  • Innovative Acoustic Sensor Technologies for Leak Detection in Challenging Pipe Types (EW-201339): Led by Gary Anguiano (Naval Facilities Engineering Command and Expeditionary Warfare Center) and Wendy Condit (Battelle), this joint ESTCP project with the Navy and U.S. Army evaluates a new technology designed to detect water leaks remotely using acoustic sensors. The sensors enable early detection and mitigation of leaks in aging water infrastructure on DoD installations, significantly reducing water loss. The EPA estimates that the average water system loses 14% of water through leaks, and some systems may lose up to 60%. With the majority of water systems for DoD installations dating to before 1970, remote leak detection technologies are needed to extend the life of infrastructure and reduce water consumption. Battelle is evaluating the performance of three innovative acoustic leak-detection systems, including a remotely-operated network of leak sensors that automatically correlate on a leak location from an operator’s computer. Results from the test bed show that the majority of known leaks have been detected to a location within 4 feet, and leaks as small as 1 gallon per minute have been detected.

In addition to these projects, Battelle has been heavily involved in sediment remediation work, as well as development of educational videos to help transition the new technologies developed by SERDP and ESTCP projects to end users. Other historical work includes:

  • Development of environmentally benign deicing fluids for aircraft (WP-1535)
  • Characterization of contaminant mitigation potential through sediment caps (ER-1370)
  • Quantifying life-cycle environmental footprints of soil and groundwater remedies using SiteWise (ER-201127)
  • Development of statistical models for rapid characterization of UXO sites (MR-1201)
  • Field testing and evaluation of vehicle-towed and airborne systems for small ordinance detection (MR-201105, MR-200037, MR-1316)
  • Identification of data needs for climate change vulnerability assessment (RC-2206)
  • Development of emissions factors to evaluate emissions from military aircraft (WP-1402)
  • Evaluation of the impact of fire ecology range management (FERM) strategies (ER-1305)

SERDP and ESTCP were created to help the DoD apply new science and technology solutions to improve their environmental performance and meet sustainability goals. SERDP invests in basic research and early-stage development projects for new environmental technologies. ESTCP provides funding for demonstration and validation of technologies that are ready to be used in the field. The two programs have been critical drivers in making new environmental solutions available for the U.S. military and other government agencies. Over the years, projects have addressed critical environmental challenges such as munitions clean up, energy efficiency and detection and remediation of emerging contaminants. Battelle has been involved with the programs since the beginning and has provided support for numerous projects across all of the program focal areas.