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Laboratory-Scale Demonstration Using Dilute Ammonia Gas-Induced Alkaline Hydrolysis of Soil Contaminants (Chlorinated Propanes and Explosives)

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Technical Report

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U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center Vicksburg United States

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Many environmental contaminants are amenable to degradation by alkaline hydrolysis. This project explored the use of ammonia gas to raise soil pH in order to stimulate alkaline hydrolysis. When ammonia gas dissolves in water, it forms ammonium ion, which consumes hydrogen ions H , thereby increasing pH. This study established that 5 ammonia in air can increase soil pH from 7.5 to 10.3. Batch studies indicate that this pH increase can stimulate alkaline hydrolysis reactions, resulting in the degradation of chlorinated propanes trichloropropane, dichloropropane and explosives 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, nitrobenzene, and RDX. A column study was conducted focusing on evaluating the penetration of ammonia and subsequent pH change. The study showed pH penetration of 20 cm in a 2.5 cm diameter column over 7 days, with a flow of 5 ammonia gas at 1 sccm. Chlorinated propane concentrations were reduced from levels of as high as 2400 ugkg to as low as non-detect. A small amount of these were captured in the column off gas. The team also explored whether ammonia gas exposure could stimulate metabolic activity of ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms. A 283-day experiment did not result in any measureable increase in ammonia-oxidizing microorganisms, but the team found significant increases in soil nitrogen concentrations.

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