During my time at BEAK (1993-1998), I closely followed what EnviroMetal Technologies Inc, (ETI), our sister company, was doing with zero-valent iron (ZVI). Chloroethenes are degraded at different rates by ZVI; for example PCE is degraded much faster than DCE. Wall thickness is based on ground water velocity and influent concentrations. An early pilot test at a PCE site with high ground water flow had a relatively thick (4’) wall which contained several piezometers within the wall. Toward the end of the pilot test, very high levels of cis-DCE were observed in the most up gradient piezometer in the wall and cis-DCE was barely degraded by the time it left the wall. The site had moderate levels of sulfate (> 100 mg/l).
Sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRBs) had established themselves in the up gradient portion of the wall, using sulfate and the hydrogen generated by saturated ZVI. As observed at many sites, PCE was being reductively dechlorinated to cis-DCE by SRBs. It was recommended that in future wall designs in high sulfate ground water, PCE and TCE be treated as if they were cis-DCE for the purpose of sizing wall thickness.