Whereas in the U.S. and Canada the use of SPEARS had been limited to the cleanup of well-known organic environmental toxins such as polycyclic chlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), Jansson said, the Swedish scientists would also attempt to use it to clean up a range of other toxic compounds and metals.
Until their ban in manufacture in the late 1970s, PCB chemicals were widely used and notably in paints and adhesives. Even though their manufacture stopped, said NASA Kennedy Space Center scientist Jackie Quinn, in a promotional video for SPEARS, PCBs are found ubiquitously throughout the globe. Classified as persistent organic pollutants, they are known to induce cancer.
The UmU scientists, however, will test not only whether SPEARS can be made to clean sediments in Sweden of PCBs and PAHs, but also whether it can remove polychlorinated dibenzodioxins and dibenzofurans, as well as metal-based substances or metals such as arsenic, methyl mercury or tributyltin.
“In our project, we are going to evaluate whether SPEARS is a suitable method for the cleanup of Swedish sediments and at the prevailing temperature conditions, both at the lab scale and in field trials”, said Jansson on behalf of the team at UmU, some of whose members collaborate with companies on the platform Green North.
The other partners on the project, granted by the Swedish Geotechnical Institute, are Sweco, the Geological Survey of Sweden, the Municipality of Mora, as well as the companies ecoSPEARS and Environmental Remediation Solutions.
At Bio4Energy, Jansson leads the research and development platform Bio4Energy Environment and Nutrient Recycling, while one of her colleagues on the SPEARS project, Mats Tysklind, heads up Green North and is the deputy platform leader of Bio4Energy System Analysis and Bioeconomy.