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WATER-CLEANSING TEST AHEAD PALLADIUM KEY INGREDIENT IN PROCESS AT EDWARDS.

Byline: Jim Skeen Staff Writer

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE - Palladium, the metal used in dental crowns and white gold jewelry, is about to get a test run at Edwards Air Force Base to see whether it also can be used to remove cleaning solvents from groundwater.

In a $900,000 project, researchers this summer will begin treating groundwater contaminated with trichloroethene, or TCE, from two special wells at a site near North Base.

``We're interested in leading edge technologies,'' said Gary Hatch, spokesman for the base's Environmental Management. ``Some of these technologies may become the industry standard. We're glad to be a part of that.''

The installation of the wells is expected to be completed in a few days, said Carmen Lebron, project manager from the Naval Facilities Engineering Service Center, which is overseeing the project. The project will run through May 2004.

The technology involves coating glass beads with palladium. The beads are then placed into a reaction chamber into which hydrogen gas is pumped.

The palladium will cause a chemical reaction with the TCE in the well water and the hydrogen, leaving behind only harmless chemicals, project officials said.

TCE, used in solvents, is a suspected cancer-causing chemical. The federal Environmental Protection Agency set a limit of 5 parts per billion for TCE.

Groundwater under the North Base site has TCE concentrations ranging from 500 parts per billion to 1,500 parts per billion. The water is not used for drinking.

The project is being funded by the Defense Department's Environmental Security Technology Certification Program, which is aimed at finding cost-efficient ways to clean up toxic contamination at military sites.

The project will involve the installation of two wells positioned 25 feet apart. One well will draw water up while the other will pump the water down, recycling the water through the palladium reactors above ground.

Later, after the reaction chambers have been shown to work, researchers want to insert them into the well itself.

The technology has been in development by Stanford University for about 10 years. It has been used once before, at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Northern California, with promising results.

The Lawrence Livermore work showed a 99 percent removal rate.

The test project will determine the efficiency of the technology under different operating conditions. The test team will calculate costs and performance data for application of the technology elsewhere.

The Edwards site was chosen because it had been used in recent years for other test projects. The extent of the contamination has been documented and there were existing instruments the test team could use, Lebron said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 24, 2003
Words:433
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