Environmental Remediation Technologies Derived from Space Industry Research 2004-01-2591
Beginning in the 1950s and 1960s, an abundance of effort and initiative was focused on propelling the space industry outward for planetary exploration and habitation. During these early years, the push to take space science to new levels indirectly contributed to the evolution of another science field that would not fully surface until the early 1980s, environmental remediation. This field is associated with the remediation or cleanup of environmental resources such as groundwater, soil, and sediment. Because the space-exploration initiative began prior to the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in December of 1970, many NASA Centers as well as space-related support contractors allowed for the release of spent chemicals into the environment. Subsequently, these land owners have been directed by the EPA to responsibly initiate cleanup of their impacted sites.
This paper will focus on the processes and lessons learned with the development, testing, and commercialization initiatives associated with four remediation technologies. The technologies include installation techniques for permeable reactive barriers (PRBs), the use of ultrasound to improve long-term performance of PRBs, emulsified zero-valent iron for product-level solvent degradation, and emulsion technologies for application to metal and polychlorinated biphenyl contaminated media. Details of the paper cover technology research, evaluation, and testing; contracts and grants; and technology transfer strategies including patenting, marketing, and licensing.