The International Information Center for Geotechnical Engineers

Permeable Reactive Barriers - Advantages

ADVANTAGES (of all the types)

The PRB is thought to be more cost effective at treating shallow aquifers in comparison to conventional pump and treat technologies; however long term cost data has not been collected for a full scale PRB. (Bronstein, 2005) These cost reductions are because the PRB should not require operation or maintenance of the reactive material. (ITRC Mining Waste Team, 2005) Pump and treat techniques have a higher energy demand than the PRB because the PRB can use natural hydraulic gradients to drive the remediation. (Bronstein, 2005) This little to no energy requirement by the PRB system means there is no necessary construction of above-ground facilities, which can be an advantage in an area that cannot be built upon. (Yeh et al., 2010) 

Table 2 Advantages

Table 2: Advantages of using a PRB (Bronstein, 2005)

Reactive Material Advantages

Zero Valent Iron- This material is the most commonly used reactive material in the PRB; there is more data on how this material will behave with a given contaminant than the other types of reactive materials. ZVI is also highly reactive with organic and inorganic contaminants. (Thiruvenkatachari et al., 2008) This is important when trying to remediate a wide variety of contaminants that may be present at a site. The ZVI has different sizes and chemical states so it can easily adapt to different load of contamination and the water flux required. ZVI can be used in combination with other methods of remediation such as bioremediation for more effective remediation for certain types of contaminants. (Thiruvenkatachari et al., 2008) ZVI is also safe for the workers constructing the PRB because there are no major occupational health hazards when handling the material. (Thiruvenkatachari et al., 2008)

Granular Activated Carbon- This material is relatively inexpensive because it can be obtained from low cost natural products. (Thiruvenkatachari et al., 2008) It is best used when a site has organic or heavy metal contaminants as it is most effective when in contact with these chemicals. (Thiruvenkatachari et al., 2008) GAC is also chemically stable allowing for accurate applicability. (Thiruvenkatachari et al., 2008)

Limestone- Lime is also relatively cheap to produce and can be used in combination with other treatment processes. (Thiruvenkatachari et al., 2008) Lime is useful with reducing the solubility of certain metals allowing the barrier to pull these metals out of solution in a form of precipitate. (Thiruvenkatachari et al., 2008)


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