Multi-Phase Extraction Using Fluidized Bed Reactor and Granular Activated Carbon at the Sparks Solvent/Fuel Superfund Site

Site Name:

Sparks Solvents/Fuel Superfund Site


Sparks, Nevada

Period of

1995 to present (performance data available through August 1997)


Full scale


US Filter, Envirex Products
Bob Hines
1901 S. Prairie Avenue
Waukesha, WI 53189-7374
Telephone: (414) 521-8278
Fax: (414) 547-4120

Multi-Phase Extraction (MPE) using Fluidized Bed Reactor (FBR) and Granular Activated Carbon (GAC)
- Groundwater extraction system includes 29 multi-phase wells; extracted groundwater directed to a product/water separator; free product is recovered; separated water is sent to the FBR system
- FBR system includes two U.S. Filter/Envirex GAC FBR reactors operated in parallel; total design flow is 550 gpm
- Influent water enters the bottom of the reactor tank and flows upward through the GAC/biofilm substrate where organic compounds are absorbed and degraded

Cleanup Authority:

State Contact:
Eric Noack
Nevada Division of Environmental Protection
333 West Nye Lane
Carson City, NV 89706-0851
Telephone: (775) 687-4676 x3032
Fax: (775) 687-6396
Camp Dresser & McKee, Inc.
Dirk Cochrum
1331 17th Street, Suite 1200
Denver, CO 80202
Telephone: (303) 298-1311 ext. 479
Fax: (303) 293-8236

- MTBE concentrations as high as 600 ug/L
- BTEX concentrations as high as 1,272 ug/L
- PCE concentrations as high as 7.6 ug/L

Waste Source:
Leaks from bulk petroleum and gasoline storage tanks

Type/Quantity of Media Treated:

Purpose/Significance of Application:
Use of multiphase extraction using fluidized bed reactor and granular activated carbon to treat MTBE in groundwater

Regulatory Requirements/Cleanup Goals:
Not provided

At the early portion of system operation, MTBE removal efficiencies were greater than 90%. After six weeks of operation, removal efficiencies fell to 10%
- To accelerate MTBE degradation, 20 gallons of a GAC inoculum were added to one of the reactors (FBR1) in April 1996; the removal efficiency initially increased to about 40% and continued to increase to over the next five months to about 75%
- For the reactor that did not receive the inoculum, the removal efficiency continued to remain low for another month, then began increasing to similar levels as the reactor that had received the inoculum
- As of August 1997 (650 days of operation), the removal efficiency for MTBE was about 90%, and MTBE concentrations were below10 ug/L in the effluent from the FBR system.
- Data for BTEX, TPH, and chlorinated solvents was provided for the first year of operation. The removal rate was >99% for BTEX, 78% for TPH, and about 50% for both PCE and TCE

Cost Factors:
No cost data were provided for this application.

The Sparks Solvent/Fuel Site is an industrial area in Sparks, Nevada, which contains a rail yard, a bulk petroleum storage facility, and warehouses. The site is located near the Truckee River, which supplies the majority of the drinking water to the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area. In 1987, a contaminant plume consisting of petroleum hydrocarbons, MTBE, and chlorinated solvents (PCE and TCE) was identified as originating beneath the site, and extending more than one mile from the site. MTBE had been used as an additive to gasoline stored at the site. EPA, in conjunction with the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, issued an administrative order requiring cleanup of the site.

In 1995, a groundwater extraction and treatment system was installed at the site. The system began operating in late October 1995 and operations were ongoing at the time of this report. The groundwater extraction system includes multi-phase extraction wells designed to provide source control and hydraulic containment. Extracted groundwater is treated using granulated activated carbon (GAC) and fluidized bed bioreactors (FBRs) to aerobically treat MTBE and other petroleum contaminants as well as chlorinated aliphatic solvents. MTBE data, available through August 1997, show MTBE concentrations were below10 ug/L in the effluent from the FBR system, with a removal rate of 90%. Data for other contaminants, available for the first year of operation, show a removal rate for BTEX of >99%, TPH of 78%, PCE of 50%, and TCE of 50%.