Portable/Field Testing

New Technology Supporting Brownfield Remediation and Redevelopment in China

Feb 19 2015 Comments 0

The Opportunity

Rapid urban expansion and economic growth in China are two major trends that are driving demand for new and innovative technologies for environmental remediation.  Long standing government policies focused on major regional development have led to both industrialization and urbanization in major economic centers throughout the country.  The result has been the fastest growing economy in the world over the last 30 years.  However, it has also resulted in significant regional disparities in industrial development.  To address the differences, new policies on industrial relocation to less developed areas has emerged, creating many unused former industrial sites commonly referred to as “brownfields”.  This has created both a problem and an opportunity. 

Brownfields pose a potential health hazard right in the heart of many of the most densely populated areas of China as a result of the residual industrial chemicals that are left behind after relocation.  While their proximity poses a health hazard, they also pose an opportunity to repurpose these sites for new uses of which community officials and developers are eager to take advantage.  In order to unlock the potential of valuably situated brownfields, a rapidly growing environmental remediation industry has emerged that is in need of innovative technology solutions to the problems and opportunities created by brownfields in China. 

The Challenge

A few of the major steps in environmental remediation are:

Properly identifying contamination
Creating a plan for remediation
Verifying successful remediation once the plan has been executed

All three of these steps require detailed information about the amount, location, and specific contaminants in a brownfield.  Contamination can be of two types, heavy metals or organic. 

Widely available equipment exists to measure organic contamination at limits of detection adequate to accomplish the goals of environmental remediation on-site, without the need to expend the time, effort, and expense of collecting samples, transporting them to an off-site laboratory, and waiting for the results of chemical analysis. 

On-site heavy metals contaminant characterization has presented a wholly different experience for the new and rapidly growing industry.  While field equipment exists for screening measurements of heavy metals in the form of handheld or field lab devices, there are many limitations to the technology.  Brownfield samples often contain interfering agents that affect measurement accuracy.  Soil by nature is inhomogeneous and degrades measurement reproducibility.  Existing equipment has inadequate levels of detection relative to contamination levels that result in negative health impacts.  Due to these limitations, significant costs and delays are created as numerous samples must be sent for chemical analysis off-site.  The challenge of creating an accurate, highly-portable analyzer for measuring heavy metals in brownfield soil on-site is in need of a solution.

The HDXRF® Solution

To meet the needs of the environmental remediation industry, XOS® has developed the HD Rocksand™ for measuring heavy metals in soil.  HD Rocksand uses the same HDXRF technology that has come to be trusted by regulators and industry experts in fields that require the lowest levels of detection and fast results for critical decisions in the most challenging sample types.  In order to reduce sample interferences and achieve the lowest heavy metal detection performance available in a field-ready analyzer, the HD Rocksand implements advanced x-ray optics that simultaneously reduce background signal and selectively excite the heavy metal contaminants in need of remediation. 

Brownfield sites are often large.  Moving around a site while holding an analyzer for measurements all day can be difficult.  XOS designed the HD Rocksand to be portable.  Weighing less than 6 kg, the design integrates a comfortable handle and a hands-free, push-button measurement mode to enable easy movement around a brownfield site.  The HD Rocksand features a snap-in sample-cup rotator that increases the amount of sample introduced to the analyzer beam with impressive improvements in reproducibility and repeatability of measurements for inhomogeneous brownfield samples.  The sample-cup rotator can be removed in a moment to easily switch between sample cups and bagged samples for maximum flexibility.  Brownfield sites can present challenging sample types like pieces of concrete, bricks, or asphalt that are not easily bagged for measurement.  To address these samples, the HD Rocksand can be operated in a direct-measurement, handheld mode.

For more details on how the HD Rocksand from XOS can facilitate easy and accurate on-site analysis of soils please visit www.xos.com/soil.

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