Inducing a circulating flow field using a Groundwater Circulation Well (GCW)

With the conventional „Pump & Treat“ method, groundwater is normally extracted from one or several wells, cleaned above ground and disposed off to the either groundwater or surface water. Even when extraction and injection wells are combined, predominantly higher permeable areas are preferentially penetrated and more fine-grained structures are circumflowed. The bulk of contaminants are absorbed to the less permeable materials like fine- grained sands, silty or clayey layers. By diffusion, the contaminants are released out of these reservoirs very slowly. After a short period of time they effect a stagnation of the contamination discharge („Tailing Effect“).

Depending on subsoil conditions (geology and hydrogeology) and contaminant type and concentration, remediation of sites can take several decades. Consequently, „Pump & Treat“ technique is considered as being suitable and effective only for containment to prevent further spreading of contaminants, but is no longer considered as a remediation method.

With the „Pump & Treat“ method groundwater is radially extracted out of the aquifer. Due to a change in the hydraulic gradient, both contaminated and clean groundwater flows through the contaminated subsoil and is constantly treated above ground with considerable technical effort. GCW systems are designed to create in-situ vertical groundwater circulation cells by drawing groundwater from an aquifer through one screened section of a multiscreened well and discharging it through another screened section. If a circulation flow is generated in the aquifer, the treated groundwater is circulated several times in the aquifer before it flows downstream. This guarantees a considerably more efficient course of remediation compared with the „Pump & Treat“ method.

Possible Solutions


Coaxial Groundwater Circulation (CGC)

Coaxial Groundwater Circulation is a combined technique of soil air extraction and in-situ sparging. With this method, saturated and non-saturated zones are remediated simultaneously. Clean air is injected into a pressurised air distributor at the bottom of the well. The air bubbles rise within the well, causing groundwater to flow upward between the lower and upper annular space of the well. In the capillary fringe area which is straddled by a double cased screen, air is extracted. Thus, groundwater is lifted from the bottom to the top of the well. The groundwater is stripped under low negative pressure. Stripped groundwater flows back into the aquifer and circulates to the bottom of the well.


Soil Circular Flushing Well (SZB)

Non-volatile contaminants in the unsaturated zone and in the groundwater fluctuation area can be removed by means of the soil flushing technique. Cleaned and possibly oxygen-enriched groundwater re-accesses the subsoil via drain pipes or vertical screen sections after passing a cleaning system (e.g. bio-reactor etc.). The oxygen saturation as a consequence of the stripping process supports microbiological decomposition in the subsoil. In case of high natural ground water fluctuations, the mostly high-contaminated sector can be included in the remediation, combined with a GCW or a soil air extraction installation.


GCW Well Fields for the treatment

of large plumes or large-surface contamination areas

If the width of a plume is larger than the capture zone of a single GCW, several GCWs are arranged in one line perpendicular to natural groundwater flow. By means of rows of GCW wells arranged in series or offset set, aquifers can be intensively remediated also in case of large-surface contaminations. By changing the distance between the GCWs or well series, interaction between the GCWs, with predominantly horizontal flow directions, can also be achieved


Accelerated biodegradation of contaminants

By means of different techniques oxygen, gas mixtures but also nutrient solutions can be added to the GCW circulation water. Thus, more oxygen- rich and contaminant reduced groundwater circulates through the aquifer and stimulates microbiological degradation respectively creates better bioavailability. Metabolites impeding the growth of auto-chthonic micro organisms or the CO2 produced by the biological decomposition can be transported to the well with the groundwater and can be selectively removed there.


Flushing-in and active dispersing process for chemicals

In situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) or enhanced bioremediation

required for the execution of ISCO are prepared above ground and fed into the groundwater by injecting it through a GCW. The required quantities should be determined by means of laboratory tests beforehand. To mix in hydrogen peroxide in moderate concentrations will stimulate the aerobic biological degradation. The radial-symmetric circulation fields permit more homogenous and more effective dispersion of chemicals in the subsoil than other hydraulic processing techniques


Simultaneous Free Product Recovery

Extraction of light and dense non aqueous phase liquids - GCW-LNAPL/DNAPL

With a GCW it is possible to remove non-miscible liquids of lower or higher density than water (LNAPL and DNAPL) from an aquifer. In order to remove light non aqueous liquids floating on the groundwater, the GCW is operated in a reverse mode. In order to remove dense non aqueous phase liquids (DNAPL) that have accumulated on the bottom of the aquifer, the GCW is operated in standard mode. The LNAPL or DNAPL is removed by means of a sensor-controlled, pneumatically- driven submersible pump. Thus it is made sure that just pure phase and no groundwater is extracted.

Potential Technological Advantages of IEG-GCW Technology

Faster remediation time because vertical circulation well technology forces groundwater to flow perpendicular to low permeable zones, thereby enhancing the mobilization of contaminants Maximal hydraulic gradient for vertical flow

Various modes of operation. Systems can be modified to circulate groundwater in a downward or upward direction in order to take advantage of the physical properties of the contaminants treated

Adjustment of the circulation pattern according to the contamination (standard-flow, reverse-flow, stacked-flow, multiple circulation cells etc.)

Demonstrated effectiveness at over 300 related sites

No water is removed from the subsurface. No drawdown of groundwater, no structural damage to existing buildings

Method can be implemented in aquifers possessing a very low yield, which normally could not be remediated using a continuous pump and treat operation

Possibility of installing well fields for treatment of large plumes or largesurface contamination areas

Systems can be strategically placed near surface water bodies and adjacent contaminated properties, treating only the defined treatment zone without drawing groundwater from other areas

Simultaneous free product recovery (LNAPL and DNAPL)

Simultaneous free product recovery (LNAPL and DNAPL)

Variety of possible combination with state-of-the-art treatment technologies according to the type of contamination

Effective physical stripping is achieved under vacuum and can be done in the well, in vault construction or in on-site stripping reactors. Uniquely able to regulate amendment additions, air/water ratio and system hydraulics

Accelerated biodegradation of contaminants by means of adding nutrients and oxygen for stimulating bioremediation

Stimulation of natural attenuation processes (aerobic or anaerobic) for more rapid degradation

Effective mechanism for flushing-in and active dispersing process for gaseous,liquid and colloid substances

Current projects

CHC Remediation




Dr. Eduard J. Alesi
& Marcel Alesi
+49(0)7335 96976-0