Thermal desorption is a physical separation process in which the excavated contaminated soil is heated to a temperature at which the water and organic contaminants are volatilized (U.S. EPA 1991d). The volatilized contaminants are then sent to a gas treatment system. Low-temperature thermal desorption is potentially effective for halogenated semivolatiles, nonhalogenated volatiles, and pesticides (U.S. EPA 1993a). High-temperature thermal desorption is effective for halogenated volatiles and semivolatiles as well as fuel hydrocarbons.
The contaminants, however, are not destroyed by this technology and require further gas treatment. In addition, the technology is less effective for tightly aggregated soils or those containing large rock fragments.
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