A new remediation method developed to remove and reclaim dissolved solids from groundwater was awarded a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The wicking well system developed by engineering services company HDR mechanically applies the phytoremediation process, wherein trees absorb groundwater and capture contaminants. The technologyThe wicking well method capturing dissolved solids from water. Source: HDRThe wicking well method capturing dissolved solids from water. Source: HDR targets dissolved solids in groundwater, such as metals and other ionic elements including arsenic and boron, which can pose environmental and health hazards.

A vessel captures these contaminants in a sponge-like capillary media as the impacted groundwater is evaporated, removing the solids from the aquifer that protects down-gradient water users and the environment. At this point, some of the contaminants can be recovered as resources after they are concentrated, enabling extraction of useful materials.

The process is considered less costly relative to other groundwater remediation methods and should prove an efficient water treatment option at mining, manufacturing and coal-fired power generation sites. HDR researchers will now turn to developing a success lab-scale test and implementing pilot projects.

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