Innova invents environmentally safe soil cleansing technology

Yesterday Innova unveiled its soil decontamination project at a Springvale site in Victoria – the most advanced soil cleansing project undertaken in Australia and the second of its kind globally, the company says.According to Innova, its soil purifying process is in line with the Victorian government’s preference for soil remediation rather than transporting polluting soil to landfill.Innova’s soil remediation process is also cheaper and causes less disruption than disposing contaminated soil in landfill, the company says.The Environmental Protection Authority has approved Innova’s desorption technology, which can cleanse soil that has chemical, manufacturing and petroleum contaminants.The decontamination of the Springvale site is expected to cost around $6 million, according to the company.More than 20,000 tonnes of soil will undergo Innova’s Direct Heated, Fast Quenched, Thermal Desorption (DFTD) process at the eight-hectare Princess Highway site.Once developed, a $300 million Harvey Norman home maker centre will be constructed on the site, which will be the biggest of its kind in the southern hemisphere.Under the DFTD process, the contaminated soil and rubble is excavated and loaded onto a conveyor belt, which feeds it into a rotary dryer where it is heated to around 500C, vaporising hydrocarbon contaminants (polychlorinated biphenyl, or PCB), Innova said.“The evaporated contaminants are then heated to almost 1000 degrees and converted to harmless carbon dioxide, water, and a small portion of acid gas, which is then neutralised,” the company said.Fifteen minutes later the soil cascades out of the feeder, decontaminated and immediately safe to touch.Since the plant was established mid-year, around 15t of soil an hour has been decontaminated on a 24-7 basis.Decontamination of the 8ha site is expected to be completed early next year, enabling the site to be removed from the Victorian EPA Priority Site register, and construction of the $300 million Harvey Norman outlet to begin, according to Innova.EPA executive director Bruce Dawson said independent monitoring of the site had verified contaminant removal, while remaining within emission limits. “Tests so far on more than 250 samples of processed soil report levels of PCB below the limits of detection,” Dawson said.Dawson also praised Harvey Norman for choosing to remediate the site, despite not being responsible for the initial contamination.Innova managing director Dr John Lucas said the company’s equipment was transportable and Innova’s system could benefit many contaminated sites across Victoria.

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