Near-Critical and Supercritical Fluid Extraction of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons from Town Gas Soil


The contamination of soil by hazardous and toxic organic pollutants is an ever-growing problem facing the global community. One particular family of contaminants that are of major importance are polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are the result of coal gassification and high-temperature processes. Sludges from these town gas operations were generally disposed of into unlined pits and left there for eventual biodegradation. However, the high levels of PAH contained in the pits prevented the occurrence of biodegradation. PAH contaminated soil is now considered hazardous and must be cleaned to environmentally acceptable standards. One method for the remediation is extraction with supercritical water, Water in or about its critical region exhibits enhanced solvating power toward most organic compounds. Contaminated soil containing 4% by mass of hydrocarbons was ultra -cleaned in a 300-cm3 semicontinuous system to an environmentally acceptable standard of less than 200 ppm residual hydrocarbon concentration. The effects of subcritical or supercritical extraction, solvent temperature, pressure, and density have been studied, and the discerning characteristics of this type of fluid have been identified. The efficiencies of subcritical and supercritical extraction have been discussed from a process engineering standpoint.


Chemical and Biochemical Engineering

Keywords and Phrases

Near-critical Fluid Extraction; Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons; Supercritical Fluid Extraction; Town Gas Soil

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


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© 1995 Taylor & Francis, All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 1995