The International Information Center for Geotechnical Engineers

Soil Vapor Extrusion


Advantages and Disadvantages of SVE


There are many advantages to using the soil vapor extraction system as a method of remediation for a contaminated site.  Some advantages may include the ease of installation due to construction materials being readily available.  In addition, the ease of installation could decrease the amount of disturbance that occurs at the contamination site.  Another advantage to using SVE is that this remedial technology is easily coupled with other techniques, such as air sparging, it can be used when the ground water table is at a depth where the extraction wells could draw water into them.  Air sparging involves injecting contaminant free air into the injection well in order to transfer the contaminant from the dissolved state into the vapor state to allow for extraction.  One more benefit is that the system is easily monitored, allowing the treatment time to be relatively short and inexpensive to implement compared to other techniques (Sharma and Reddy 2004). 


Although there are some advantages to choosing a soil vapor extraction system as a remediation technique, there are some disadvantages as well.  One disadvantage is the system is applicable only for unsaturated soil and soils with high permeability.  Saturated soils cause problems with SVE because of the amount of water that may get into the extraction wells and prevent vapor extraction, and low permeability soils do not allow for sufficient air flow for the vapors to be extracted and treated.  Another disadvantage is that during excavation, contaminated air may escape into the atmosphere that should require treatment.  The air emission treatment systems may require permits and a large amount of land use may be necessary for adequate treatment facilities and therefore may increase cost (Sharma and Reddy 2004).


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