U.S. EPA Contaminated Site Cleanup Information (CLU-IN)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. EPA Technology Innovation and Field Services Division

For more information on Thermal Desorption, please contact:

Jim Cummings
Technology Assessment Branch

PH: 202-566-0868 | Email:

Thermal Treatment: Ex Situ


Cost and Performance Reports
Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable.

Innovative Site Remediation Technologies Design and Application, Volume 5: Thermal Desorption
W.L. Troxler, E.S. Alperin, P.R. de Percin, J.H. Hutton, J.S. Lighty, and C.R. Palmer. American Academy of Environmental Engineers, Annapolis, MD. ISBN: 1-883767-21-0, 300 pp, 1998. [EPA 542-B-97-008, NTIS: PB99-109027]

This monograph discusses the use of thermal desorption systems chiefly for hazardous substance applications, while application of the technology to petroleum-contaminated waste matrices is addressed briefly in an appendix. The components of the thermal desorption process are detailed with case histories of eight different equipment types, ranging from rotary dryers to mercury retorts, in technology applications at sites under CERCLA, RCRA Corrective Action, state Superfund, and Brownfields programs.

Adobe PDF LogoInnovative Technology Summary Report: Transportable Vitrification System
U.S. DOE, Office of Environmental Management.
DOE/EM-0504, 52 pp, 1998.

Adobe PDF LogoMinergy Corporation Glass Furnace Technology Evaluation
U.S. EPA, Superfund Innovative Technology Evaluation (SITE) Program.
EPA 540-R-03-500, 137 pp, 2004

The demonstration evaluated the technology's ability to reduce PCB and metal concentrations in river sediment. Contaminated media are placed in the furnace and heated to about 1,600 degrees Celsius, at which temperature soils and sediments melt, PCBs and organic contaminants are destroyed or removed, and metals are encapsulated within the resulting glass matrix.

Adobe PDF LogoSite-Specific Technical Report for the Evaluation of Thermatrix GS Series Flameless Thermal Oxidizer for Off-Gas Treatment of Soil Vapors with Volatile Organic Compounds at the Source Area Reduction System, Former Lowry Air Force Base, Colorado
S.R. Archabal, D.C. Downey, T.E. Dragoo, and P.R. Guest. NTIS: ADA382609, 149 pp, 1998.

This report presents the results of technology demonstration designed to determine the applicability of using flameless thermal oxidation (FTO) technology for treatment of extracted soil vapors containing chlorinated and non-chlorinated VOCs.

Adobe PDF LogoSite-Specific Technical Report for the Evaluation of Thermatrix GS Series Flameless Thermal Oxidizer for Off-Gas Treatment of Trichloroethene Vapors at Building 181 Air Force Plant 4, Texas
S.R. Archabal, D.C. Downey, P.R. Guest, and M.J. Vessely. NTIS: ADA382616, 130 pp, 1998.

As part of an AFCEE-sponsored program to promote the use of cost-effective vapor treatment technologies in conjunction with soil vapor extraction for remediation of fuel- and solvent-impacted sites, a demonstration of a flameless thermal oxidation (FTO) system developed for treatment of extracted soil vapors containing chlorinated and non-chlorinated VOCs by Thermatrix, Inc. of Knoxville, TN, was implemented at AFP 4, Fort Worth, TX.

Remediation Trial at The Avenue Using Thermal Treatment
CL:AIRE Case Study Bulletin CSB 6, 4 pp, 2006

Contaminated material from The Avenue (a former coking plant and chemical works) was addressed with an ex situ thermal treatment to assess the suitability of enhanced thermal conduction technology to treat soils contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and diesel-range organics.

Adobe PDF LogoFirst Five-Year Review Report for the Central Wood Preserving Company Superfund Site, East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana
U.S. EPA Region 6, 98 pp, 2009

The Central Creosoting Company, Inc. operated from the 1950s to January 1, 1973, using creosote exclusively as the wood preservative. On January 3, 1973, the facility was sold to Central Wood Preserving Company, Inc., which discontinued the use of creosote and instead treated wood with chromated copper arsenate (CCA). Creosote and CCA were spilled on the site property over a period of 40 years. The 2001 ROD specified removal and low-temperature thermal desorption (LTTD) on site for the soils and sediments, with off-site stabilization and disposal of removed soils. Excavation likely removed the small amounts of DNAPL found during RD data collection. The remedial action began in November 2003, with excavation and LTTD completion in September 2004.

Sangamo-Weston, Inc./Twelve Mile Creek/Lake Hartwell PCB Contamination Superfund Site, Pickens, Pickens County, South Carolina
U.S. EPA Region 4, Superfund Information System.

The land-based source areas of OU-1 include the Plant site and six satellite disposal areas, as well as contaminated groundwater associated with the land-based source areas. From December 1995 through May 1997, ~40,000 cubic yds of PCB-impacted material was removed from the satellite disposal areas and consolidated on the Plant site for treatment by low-temperature thermal desorption (to ~2 mg/kg PCBs) and then backfilled on site. Two pump-and-treat systems installed at the Breazeale and Plant sites collectively have recovered 215 million gallons of groundwater and removed 1,480 pounds of chlorinated solvents (mainly PCE and TCE) and 17.6 pounds of PCBs (primarily Aroclor 1248). In 2008, 9 pilot SVE wells were installed at suspected residual source areas on the Plant site, and their VOC removal efficiencies will be evaluated to determine if full-scale SVE is warranted. In 2007, pilot studies were implemented at the Breazeale site to evaluate ozone sparging and potassium permanganate as possible ISCO technologies to reduce the VOC plume. Based on the results, a ROD amendment was signed and full-scale ISCO using potassium permanganate was conducted in September 2009. SVE Pilot StudyAdobe PDF Logo ISCO Pilot StudyAdobe PDF Logo Sediment MNR.

Adobe PDF LogoCar Park Waste Encapsulation Remediation: Directly-Heated Thermal Desorption
CPWE Fact Sheet 5, 4 pp, 2011

Orica Australia Pty Ltd. is using directly heated thermal desorption (DTD) technology for the ex situ treatment of 45,000 cubic m of hexachlorobutadiene-contaminated sand and coal ash. These contaminated media were consolidated beneath an asphalt parking lot in 1980 until a suitable remediation technology could be found to treat them. To control the release of dust, the contaminated soil is being excavated within a sealed building constructed over the parking lot and transported in covered trucks to the feed soil building, where it is screened to break down clumps and remove debris. The soil is fed by a conveyor into the adjacent DTD plant for treatment. In the rotary dryer of the DTD plant, direct heating desorbs HCBD from the soil. The contaminants and any by-products are destroyed within the thermal oxidizer. Using natural gas as fuel, the DTD process heats the soil to a temperature typically between 350 and 450 degrees C. The heating process separates organic compounds and mercury from the soil as vapor. The plant can treat between 20 and 35 tonnes of soil per hour, depending on the soil matrix. Soil treatment began in August 2011 and should be completed by the end of 2011 or early in 2012.

Adobe PDF LogoCase Studies: Evaporative Desorption Technology (EDT) Remediation of Chlorinated VOCs in Saturated Bay Mud and Clay Deposits
Brady, P., D.W. Moore, M. Sutton, and P.D. Horton.
Eighth International Conference on Remediation of Chlorinated and Recalcitrant Compounds ( Monterey , CA ; May 2012). Battelle Press, ISBN 978-0-9819730-5-0, Paper B-048, 8 pp, 2012

EDT was used to address elevated concentrations of PCE >50,000 µg/kg and degradation compounds in tight bay mud soil at a former industrial dry cleaning facility located near the margin of San Francisco Bay. EDT is a flameless thermal technology that uses desiccated air for treatment. Excavation and batch treatment powered by a Tier III diesel generator was conducted over a period of two months using two 10-ton soil bins within the trailer-mounted mobile treatment unit, where air temperatures ranged from 900-1,100 degrees F. The effluent vapors were captured in two GAC vessels in series. EDT treatment of the high-concentration source material was followed by enhanced in situ bioremediation to treat the residual PCE mass in the "halo" and groundwater plume outside the treatment area. PCE >50,000 µg/kg was treated to <20 µg/kg, and in most cases <5 µg/kg.

Adobe PDF LogoPerformance Evaluation of USAID'S Environmental Remediation at Danang Airport
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), 110 pp, 2018

In-pile thermal desorption (IPTD) technology was implemented at Danang Airport (Vietnam) to treat dioxin-contaminated soil and sediment. The IPTD process heats soil to 635°F (335°C), a level of heat that reduces dioxin compounds to non-toxic components. Initially intended to excavate and treat ~73,000 m3 of contaminated soil and sediment, the project expanded to include excavation, treatment, and containment of additional soil and sediment identified during implementation, increasing its funding from $7.35 million to $103.5 million. The project excavated 162,567 m3, successfully treated 94,593 m3 and contained 67,974 m3 of contaminated soil in landfills. Additional information: Video.