NCT: Environmental Quality

Technology Sub Area: Remediation and Restoration

Technical Application: Thermal Desorption

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Center for Advanced Technology (CAT) Lakewood High School,
Saint Petersburg, Florida.

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Task one: Provide a history of the National Critical Technology (NCT) technical application your team is researching. Include at least three significant scientific discoveries, advances and milestones using documented facts and figures.

    Over the past decades, greenhouse gases have affected our society with alarming result. In 1896, Arrhenius published the first calculation of global warming. In 1930, many people around the world realize that their region has become warmer every day. In 1938, Callendar argues that CO2 greenhouse global warming is underway. Since 1939 through 1945, World War II has brought many harmful gases into our atmosphere. By 1966, about eighteen glaciers in Montana’s Glacier National Park have melted. In 1975, scientist investigating traces of gas in the stratosphere discovered the dangers ozone layer. During an experiment in 1975, small amounts of iron were spread over 100 sq miles of the Pacific Ocean. Five days later, the water had turned from blue to bright green. The carbon dioxide they absorbed would be removed from the atmosphere and remained in the ocean after they die. Thermal desorption came abroad as an economic treatment technology in 1985. In 1988 is the warmest year on the record Mount Pinatubo, a volcano in the Philippines exploded in1991 after being inactive for more than 600 years and produced a huge amount of gases. Also, during 1995, heat strokes killed more than 500 people in Chicago. Heat stress in Europe which caused tens of thousands of deaths and crop loss in 2003. Hurricane Katrina and other high strength major tropical storms maybe indicators of global warming impacts and things to come as the level of CO2 in the atmosphere continues to rise and reaches 380 ppm (parts per million). (Silverstein, 2003)


Task two: Identify two scientists or engineers who have made major contributions to the development of the technical application your team selected and explain how their work is related.

   Two scientist or engineers who have made a major contributions to the development of the thermal desorption that we have selected are:
            R. Graham Cooks with the Purdue University Researchers have used the new method called atmospheric-pressure thermal desorption ionization to ionize which is called “organic salts”. He said: “Thermal ionization system” has been proven to be surprisingly accurate in revealing the masses of molecules in the materials being analyzed”. And he also said: “We have shown that the spectrum is pretty clean and that there are almost no fragment ions, which was unexpected”. The ionic liquid “green” is current solvents research because they’re making compounds chemical. Besides that, they can be easily recycled. This method could be use to ionize “non-volatile compounds”. His work also relate to how we separate gases from other object by analyzed in a metal or ceramic tube that was heated to about 300 degree Celsius, then separating the positively and negatively charge ions of the material. It will produce a positive charged ion. After that, the ions in the vapor while we were mixed it with nitrogen, it turns into the mass spectrometer.(R.G. Crocks, 2006)

            John Yates is a scientist who is also involved in related work as Graham Cooks. He works with surface chemistry too techniques on crystal surface with LEE, ESDIAD, EELS and IRAS. He has researched about Teflon which is a resistant that making it more effective choice for gathering samples of trace. It wipe into a special type of tubing called a gas chromatography column. It wiped by heated with the higher temperature. This simple method could easily and inexpensively be adapted. On the debris, some components vaporize can be found. This is using dry surface wipes is transferred into a special tube called a gas chromatography of thermal desorption for analysis. We think this would help the government for testing to see which areas unsafe for human. (University of Pittsburgh, 2003).


Task three: Explain how the technical application your team is researching is currently being used to solve the problem in Component One. Include documentation regarding at least two benefits and two limitations.

    The technical application that we have researched is currently being used to solve the problem in Component One is that the thermal desorption could separate the hazard chemical from the air and land, then turn them into safety area (Intersate Technology and Regulatory Council, 1997) . It can also monitor and analyze just about any solid, liquid or gas out there. (Agilent Technologies, 2000) . It designed to remove an organic compound from solid such as soils without destroying them. It useful for dry soil and certain types of pollution such as fuel soil, coal tar, chemical, solvents. (William, 1993).Besides that the materials for cleanup cost less than other equipments. Thermal Desorption is currently being used to select as a treatment method. For instance,thermal desorption was used the TH Agriculture & Nutrition Company site in Albany, Georgia. (EPA, 1996) .It was used to treat about 4,300 tons of oil with pesticides. Besides that, thermal desorption was also useful in chemical reclamation, metal manufacturing, chemical drum storage/disposal, thermostat manufacturing, munitions manufacturing, fire training site, marine products manufacturing, industrial waste treatment.(EPA, 1996).Since our problem is the fact that un-wanted gasses are being released adding to the greenhouse effect, we believe that further testing air in various places, and cleaning it out, can hopefully stop or significantly slow down global warming so it won’t be as much of an issue. Even though, there are several benefits for thermal desorption, there are also many limitations that include the treatment in the air which cause an extremely important consideration. The burning of certain metal and dioxins is a big contributor to the depletion. Another concern is the dust and organic matter in soil. Mercury waste also causes problems contaminating the air. (US Environmental Protection Agency and Citizens, 2002) .


Task four: Using e-mail, obtain the opinion of a scientist or engineer about your team’s proposed improvement or new use for the technical application. Add this information to your website by including the individual’s name, organization, copies of the e-mail the team sent and the reply it received from its inquiry.

    Based on what we have learned in Component 2, over the past years, advancement in science has helped prevent and stop these greenhouse gases and other harmful chemicals. Thermal desorption improvements for cleaning up contaminated soils allows the method to be used to mitigate “hot spots” where there are contaminated source areas with high concentration of petroleum hydrocarbons or other organic pollutants. There are now equipment for either on-site or off-site treatment. Besides that, thermal desorption and trapping/removal of organic pollutants from soils can easily be combined or substituted for many other technologies: For an example, groundwater extraction or air sparging. The post-treatment cleaned soil can be used for landfill cover in other sites, or can be redeposited on-site. On the other hand, thermal desorption can be used to decrease contaminants below 10 ppm of total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH), and can readily reduce benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene, and xylenes (BTEX) below 100 ppb or lower.

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