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Engineering Considerations for Hydroxide Treatment of Training Ranges

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Final rept.

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The use of hydrated lime has the potential to be an effective in situ technology for the destruction and containment of explosives contamination. This was proven with the results from the SERDP project CU-1230, where it was shown to rapidly degrade RDX and TNT. However, prior to field deployment of this technology additional experimental work was required to address concerns regarding the mechanism of the alkaline hydrolysis reaction, the character of the final products of the reaction, the potential for biodegradation of the reaction products, and the amount of lime required for alkaline hydrolysis in different soils. The results can be summarized as follows. First, spectroscopic studies of the TNT alkaline hydrolysis reaction identified two well-resolved and spectrally distinct reaction intermediates. A single radical species was formed during the TNT hydroxide reaction that correlated with the second reaction intermediate. Second, TNT and RDX degraded rapidly through alkaline hydrolysis at pH 12.5. The end products of the reaction were low water-soluble molecular weight compounds that included nitrate and format. No polymer formation was observed under these reaction conditions. Third, anaerobic and aerobic incubation of neutralized hydrolysis reaction mixtures with range soil showed that there is a high potential for biodegradation. This was evidenced by mineralization of reaction end products production of 14C-labeled carbon dioxide and a decrease in nitrite and nitrate concentrations. Fourth, a simple method to predict the lime required by different soils under different environmental and contamination conditions was developed based on current ASTM methods for raising soil pH. A guidance document was prepared to provide site managers a means to easily and inexpensively determine the lime dosage required to raise pH to levels required for munitions and metals remediation.

Subject Categories:

  • Physical Chemistry
  • Ammunition and Explosives

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