Sustainable management of soils affected by oils and fuels

Project information

2020 - 2022

Country: Spain

Client: REE – Red Electrica de España


Project description 

As part of the objectives related to the SDG 12 (Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns), and as part of its Circular Economy Roadmap, the client has set the objective that by 2030, 100% of the soils affected by leaks and spills produced at its facilities will be treated, in order to avoid their final management in landfills. Achieving this objective would increase the recovery and reuse of soils, and at the same time minimise the percentage of land affected by oils and fuels classified as waste that is sent to landfill, thus improving sustainability in waste management.

TAUW Iberia, with the collaboration also of TAUW Germany, has shaped the R&D work proposal, the possible research alternatives in relation to the different existing treatment techniques, the design of the tests and the road-map to be followed, as well as the supervision and final reports to the client, in addition to the coordination and leadership of the project. The University of Barcelona has been collaborating on the analytics and research on the microbial consortia.

Not only have mineral oils used in power machines and OF cables (submarine electrical cables) been tested, but also a preliminary biodegradation test has been carried out for a vegetable oil that has been recently tested in power machines. Additionally, techniques in the wave crest as 2D-GC-ToF MS (-2‐dimensional gas chromatography/time‐of‐flight mass spectrometry), that identifies chemicals fingerprints from complex fractions, have been used by the laboratory in order to determine recalcitrant components of the oils assayed.

How did the cooperation with the client go? 

TAUW Spain and TAUW Germany cooperated on the design. With the Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics of the University of Barcelona we worked of the analytical aspects There has been active communication between the three parties (client, TAUW and the laboratory) throughout the project, in order to be able to advance results and make dynamic decisions when necessary.

The results

The project has provided valuable data on the potential for degradation of oils by degradation consortia specifically developed during the project, the identification of fractions that are poorly degradable or recalcitrant, and the potential future applicability of complementary techniques (use of surfactants, addition of substrates, etc.).

The next step of the project is the design of an on-site pilot test. This will facilitate the possibility of a future pilot project to be carried out at a site, in order to establish the applicability of these on-site oil bioremediation techniques.

The final benefit of the project is to provide new specific sustainable treatment(s) for the soils affected by these type of oils, replacing the alternatives used to date of excavation and management as landfill waste, with an aim of  obtaining a greater degree of sustainability from an environmental and economic point of view. Thus, moving forward in the development of the SDG 12: Ensure sustainable consumption and production pattern (Zero waste to landfill sites), and the SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation: improve water quality eliminating dumping and minimising the release of  hazardous chemicals and materials (increasing reuse of soil).

(Chemicals fingerprints from complex fractions has been used by the laboratory in order to determine recalcitrant components of the oils assayed.)



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