Civil and Environmental Engineering Publications

Smoldering Remediation of Coal-Tar-Contaminated Soil: Pilot Field Tests of STAR

Document Type


Publication Date



Environmental Science & Technology





First Page


URL with Digital Object Identifier

Last Page



Self-sustaining treatment for active remediation (STAR) is an emerging, smoldering-based technology for nonaqueous-phase liquid (NAPL) remediation. This work presents the first in situ field evaluation of STAR. Pilot field tests were performed at 3.0 m (shallow test) and 7.9 m (deep test) below ground surface within distinct lithological units contaminated with coal tar at a former industrial facility. Self-sustained smoldering (i.e., after the in-well ignition heater was terminated) was demonstrated below the water table for the first time. The outward propagation of a NAPL smoldering front was mapped, and the NAPL destruction rate was quantified in real time. A total of 3700 kg of coal tar over 12 days in the shallow test and 860 kg over 11 days in the deep test was destroyed; less than 2% of total mass removed was volatilized. Self-sustaining propagation was relatively uniform radially outward in the deep test, achieving a radius of influence of 3.7 m; strong permeability contrasts and installed barriers influenced the front propagation geometry in the shallow test. Reductions in soil hydrocarbon concentrations of 99.3% and 97.3% were achieved in the shallow and deep tests, respectively. Overall, this provides the first field evaluation of STAR and demonstrates that it is effective in situ and under a variety of conditions and provides the information necessary for designing the full-scale site treatment.


This is an open access article published under an ACS AuthorChoice License, which permits copying and redistribution of the article or any adaptations for non-commercial purposes.

DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.5b03177

This document is currently not available here.

Find in your library