REACTIVE BARRIER NETWORK "RUBIN"
This is the web site of RUBIN in English, the novel large-scale
German Permeable Reactive Barrier (PRB) R&D network, covering more
than 10 innovative PRB projects in Germany. The program is entirely
funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research
(BMBF). Various, up-to-date information on RUBIN is available, but
in addition valuable data of ALL German PRBs can be retrieved.
More than 10 permeable reactive barrier (PRB) projects, among them
participants from different universities, companies, consultants
and problem owners, join and co-operate intimately in the interdisciplinary
German PRB network/concerted action "RUBIN" for the "Use of Treatment
Walls for Site Remediation" that was initiated and set up by the
German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) in 2000.
RUBIN stands for (in German) "Reaktionswände und -barrieren im Netzwerkverbund"
meaning in English "reactive wall and barrier projects cooperating
in a network/concerted action".
The focus of RUBIN´s missions and goals is to meet current R&D
needs pertaining to the practical set up and longterm operation
of PRBs as a prospective remediation technology in a large-scale,
coordinated initiative. Especially a bundle of technical, operational,
economic, ecological, toxicological, administrative and legislative
issues as well as issues comprising longterm performance and stability
are addressed and investigated. Therefore, RUBIN is scheduled to
plan, design, implement, monitor and evaluate pilot and full-scale
PRB projects in Germany in order to check and assess as thoroughly
and precisely as possible applicability, performance and limits
of PRBs in a broad technical scope combined with an intensive, simultaneous
scientific backup. The network also covers novel innovative approaches
to be utilized for eliminating recalcitrant compounds from contaminated
groundwater by means of innovative reactive materials and novel
barrier design and construction methods.
Although a growing number of demonstration sites for PRBs, predominantly
involving treatment of chlorinated ethenes by granular iron metal,
have proven successful in principle in North America, so far, PRBs
have not been fully accepted and therefore established as new general
remediation technologies in Europe. The lack of general acceptance
and missing incentives to implement PRBs in full scale and in a
wide scope are due to, among other things, still insufficient or
missing comprehensive reliable information on long-term aspects,
e.g. longevity, long-term effect and performance, and, associated
with these items, the overall rentability. In Germany, 9 pioneering
PRB projects (full and pilot scale) have been implemented over the
last 3-4 years revealing promising preliminary results, e.g., in
Bernau (built 2001), Bitterfeld (1999), Denkendorf (2000), Edenkoben
(1998, 2001), Karlsruhe (2000), Oberursel (2002), Reichenbach (2000),
Rheine (1998) and Tübingen (1998), all revealing interesting design
and engineering features. Therefore, the German BMBF decided to
evaluate and assess the performance of PRBs as well as other material
issues to a greater extent and in a broader scope by means of RUBIN.
As representing passive in situ groundwater remediation techniques
and therefore avoiding several immanent technical drawbacks of active
systems a priori, PRBs are currently regarded as promising upcoming
alternatives to common active groundwater remediation technologies
like pump-and-treat (Gavaskar et al., 2000, Rochmes, 2000, United
States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), 1998, 1999 and
2002, Vidic, 2001). Although installation costs are generally higher
than those of other groundwater remediation technologies, O&M costs
are significantly lower, provided that the PRB will not have shown
an unexpected malfunction before the year in which costs are recovered.
O&M costs of PRBs are mostly due to monitoring measures, which are
required for all remediation approaches as well. There is no permanent
and massive intervenience into the aquifer, and the remediation
takes place in the subsurface directly inside the contaminated aquifer,
i.e., no costly installations or a specific plant have to be set
up, which had to be operated and maintained during a long-term run
in the range of several years or even decades. In addition, the
land use can resume after the installation of a PRB system, since
there are few visible signs of installation above ground except
for the monitoring wells.
The first PRB was set up at Borden, Ontario (Canada), in June 1991
as a pilot-scale, continuous reactive barrier (CRB) using zero-valent
iron (ZVI = elemental iron metal) for treatment of perchloroethene
(PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE). The project could be implemented
after pioneering preparatory basic work of different researchers,
especially of Prof. ROBERT GILLHAM and his staff (e.g., Stephanie
O´Hannesin and other co-workers) of the University of Waterloo,
Ontario: iron filings collected from a local machine shop mixed
with sand were deployed. The first full-scale system was installed
in 1995 in Sunnyvale, California (U.S.A.) as a funnel-and-gate (F&G)
PRB. This systems utilizes 100 % ZVI to treat TCE, dichloroethene
(DCE), vinylchloride (VC) and chlorinated fluorocarbons (CFC). Since
1995, the number of U.S. pilot and full-scale PRBs has steadily
increased (U.S. EPA, 2002), particularly between 1998 and 1999 (in
2002, there are about 40 PRBs in total). Predominantly, chlorinated
volatile organic carbons (cVOCs) like chlorinated ethenes (PCE,
TCE) are dehalogenated via intermediates to chlorine-free degradation
products (in case of PCE or TCE, e.g., via DCE and VC to halogen-free
ethene as one major degradation product) using technical ZVI that
serves as the dehalogenation reagent (mainly in the form of small
filings or granules). CRBs meanwhile prove to be in favor of F&G
due to economic and operational reasons. Some PRBs have been already
run for more than 7 years (2002) revealing constantly high degradation
rates of the pollutants, e.g., the pilot-scale F&G systems at the
Moffett Federal Airfield, Mountain View, California, built during
April 1996 (cVOCs are dehalogenated with ZVI), and at Dover Air
Force Base, Delaware, set up in December 1997 (cVOCs are dehalogenated
with ZVI as well). Recently published, comprehensive reports present
and discuss extensive results from investigating several installations
regarding key issues like long-term performance (Gavaskar et al.,
2000 and 2002).
Besides chlorinated hydrocarbons (CHC) and certain radioactive
elements, PRBs have been relatively rarely applied to other groundwater
contaminants so far, like "common" heavy metals (e.g., lead, zinc,
cadmium, copper), PAHs or other aromatics like benzene, toluene,
ethylbenzene or xylenes (BTEX), because suitable and affordable
reactive materials are still lacking or are currently under development
only (Scherer et al., 2000). Activated carbon seems to be a promising
reagent for the adsorptive removal of PAHs and other contaminants
like highly persistent CHC, because PAHs can not be degraded on
ZVI, namely as well chlorinated aromatics (Gavaskar et al., 2000,
Scherer et al., 2000), due to the relatively low reduction potential
of ZVI. One solution for getting rid of these components as well
have been demonstrated by using in situ hydrogenation catalysts
like palladium, which enables to dehalogenate nearly every recalcitrant
polyhalogenated pollutant completly within minutes. Nevertheless,
pure palladium is usually very expensive, toxic and may be quickly
deactivated by other groundwater ingredients or their reaction products
like sulfide. Fortunately, it could be demonstrated recently that
all of these problems can be effectively overcome by using special
solid supports like zeolites (Dr. Christoph Schüth, University of
Tübingen) or encapsulating the palladium in silicon tubes (Prof.
Frank-Dieter Kopinke, Dr. Karin Mackenzie, UFZ Leipzig). Both inventions
are intensively tested at the SAFIRA test site at Bitterfeld, at
the drain-and-gate PRB in Denkendorf and at the f&g PRB at Bernau
in field scale. Furthermore, a novel, emerging trend regarding reactive
materials seems to be combining different reactive and/or sorptive
materials like iron and activated carbon that perform already well
and economic in PRBs where each of them is applied exclusively (Weiß
et al., 1999, SAFIRA, 2002).
PRBs are not appropriate for all applications (Vidic, 2001). Moreover,
PRB technologies have not already gained general acceptance as established
remediation technologies so far, especially across Europe, due to
- There is a certain lack of reliable information on long-term
performance, longevity and long-term effect, because of still
missing long-lasting projects in the range of decades (Puls et
al., 2000, Yoon et al., 2000, Rochmes, 2000, Sarr, 2001, Simon
et al., 2001, Vidic, 2001).
- There is a demand for identifying all degradation pathways as
well as determining precise mass balances. The considerable toxicity
of intermediary or final dehalogenation products like cis-DCE,
VC or ethene is also critically discussed (Wienberg, 1997).
- Only insufficient information is currently available on the
rentability of PRBs, especially, if the performance decreases
- The knowledge about the applicability and longevity regarding
combined contamination scenarios, especially when being very heterogeneous
and complex, is in a very early stage at the moment (Rochmes,
2000, Scherer et al., 2000).
Addressing the issues mentioned above, the German EPA (Umweltbundesamt,
UBA) already stated in late 1997 that R&D as well as technical implementations
of PRB projects had to be boosted in order to investigate their
potentials and limits (Burmeier, 1997). "SAFIRA" (i.e., "Sanierungsforschung
in regional kontaminierten Aquiferen", meaning in English "remedial
research applied to regionally contaminated aquifers"), a R&D network
using specifically designed in situ reactors in a semi-technical
scale for testing different reactive materials, was the first initiative
to study the potentials of PRBs in a broader scope (Weiß et al.,
1999). The pilot plant treats groundwater contaminated by a complex
mixture of CHCs, i.e., mainly chlorobenzenes, and other pollutants
at Bitterfeld, Federal State of Saxony-Anhalt. In order to promote
the technical development of full-scale PRBs, the German Federal
Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) set up another PRB concerted
action "RUBIN" (i.e., "Reinigungswände und -barrieren im Netzwerkverbund",
meaning in English "PRB projects co-operating in a network/concerted
action"), consisting of several PRB projects (Birke et al., 2001).
In Germany, 9 PRB pilot projects, all showing some good first tendencies
regarding efficiency of degradation or removal of contaminants and
rentability, have been implemented over the last 3-4 years, namely
in Rheine (cVOCs, iron filings and iron sponge, pilot scale, continuous
wall), Tübingen (cVOCs, granular iron, full scale, funnel and gate),
Karlsruhe (PAH, activated carbon, full scale, funnel and gate),
Edenkoben (cVOCs, iron filings, pilot scale, expanded to full scale
(since 2001), funnel and gate), Denkendorf (cVOCs, activated carbon,
full scale, drain and gate), Bitterfeld (CHC like chlorinated benzenes,
PAH, microbiological degradation and palladium and iron plus activated
carbon in different reactors, pilot scale with focus on R&D, specific
reactor systems), Reichenbach (cVOCs, activated carbon, full scale,
specific design), Bernau (cVOCs, iron filings, pilot scale) and
Oberursel (cVOCs, iron granules, full scale, funnel and gate).
Important ongoing R&D work has been performed at the University
of Tübingen and the University of Kiel and at the Umweltforschungszentrum
Leipzig over the last years.
Owing to these projects, initiatives and other activities in Germany,
the importance of PRBs for groundwater remediation became aware
to the German public, and its potentials have been recognized to
a greater extent. Significant progress has been made over the last
years to better understand and predict long-term stability. Thus,
there is a strong support for testing and evaluating this technique,
furthermore, for developing new concepts and solutions.
In order to support and promote the technical development of PRBs,
the BMBF set up RUBIN in 2000. RUBIN´s time schedule is about 4
years. At least about 4 Mio EUR will be provided and spent for that
Detailed missions and goals of RUBIN are given below:
- RUBIN´s projects are expected to deliver comprehensive data,
informations, knowledge and problem solutions for different areas
like planning and design, construction and operation, monitoring,
economics, ecological effects, regulatory issues and enhancing
acceptance of administrations and problem owners.
- The projects of RUBIN are therefore focussed on the set up and
operation of pilot and full scale PRB installations. Experts and
highly skilled personal from research institutions (universities),
developers (universities and companies), planners (consultants,
environmental technology and engineering companies), executives
(builders and contractors, highly specialized civil engineering
companies) and administrations co-operate interdisciplinarily.
Data have to be collected from as much as possibly different sites
- RUBIN is expected to deliver extensive information for a reliable
assessment of benefits and drawbacks as well as a precise prediction
of the applicability and rentability of a PRB regarding a concrete,
single remediation scenario.
- Since RUBIN includes the already built PRB in Rheine, first
investigations of long-term aspects can be implemented. Therefore,
with the help of RUBIN, experts are getting opportunity of testing
already running German PRB installations (the Tübingen PRB will
be included by the work of the University of Kiel to some extent,
- RUBIN shall provide quality standards and a generally applicable
quality management scheme for the construction, operation and
monitoring. Approaches for an improved monitoring and more reliable
preliminary examinations are developed.
- Both investment and overhead costs of all RUBIN projects will
be scrutinized and will deliver a data set for more precise approaches
for calculations of rentability, especially compared to a common
pump and treat measure in every case.
The RUBIN member projects can be classified into two groups: six
site-specific projects, which are partly associated with several
further sub-contractors/projects, deal with planning and/or setting
up and/or operating as well as monitoring an actual PRB construction.
Three further projects attend to general issues (spanning projects,
non-site-specific). An overview is given under rubin->projects->overview.
The gathered findings will be covered by a general manual mainly
consisting of a state-of-the-art report and a main connecting thread
for planning, design, construction and operation of PRBs in Germany.
On Sept. 6th 2001, the set up of the funnel and gate system at
the Bernau site was successfully finished. Managed by the "Brandenburgische
Boden Gesellschaft für Grundstücksverwaltung und -verwertung mbH
(BBG)", this was the first RUBIN project to erect and operate a
new PRB in Germany.
3 other RUBIN projects deal with important general issues and aspects:
At the University of Tübingen (G. Teutsch, M. Finkel), there is
ongoing work comprising development of models for estimation and
prediction of costs and rentability calculations; a comparative
economical assessment is performed for the PRB technique versus
innovative pump and treat systems.
At the University of Kiel, A. Dahmke and M. Ebert perform in co-operation
with R. Wienberg, Hamburg, a comparative laboratory and site study
for the evaluation and further development of preliminary investigation
procedures, monitoring and quality management. One focus of this
work is on scrutinizing degradation mechanisms and solving issues
regarding side reactions as well as determining mass balances, especially
for the dehalogenation of cVOCs like PCE and TCE by ZVI, using column
and field data.
The University of Applied Sciences North-East Lower Saxony (H.
Burmeier, V. Birke and D. Rosenau), Suderburg, co-ordinates the
general work and results of the network and will be responsible
for making up a general manual covering a state-of-the-art report
and a guidance for implementation of PRBs in form of a main connecting
thread, which has to be adapted to the already existing, general
regulations and laws for remediation of contaminated sites in Germany.
Therefore, the main connecting thread will cover descriptions, advices
and instructions for cost calculations, planning, design, administrative
regulations/approval, erection and operation as well as monitoring
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J., Hicks, J., and Condit, W. (2002). "Final report evaluating the
longevity and hydraulic performance of permeable reactive barriers
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