Unocal grant funds leading edge remediation technology research at University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa, Sept. 28, 1999 -- Unocal Corporation's Asset Management Group today announced it has awarded a $50,000 grant to the University of Iowa Foundation to fund research into the use of phytoremediation, a leading edge technology for remediation of soil and groundwater at hydrocarbon-impacted sites.
Professors Lon Drake and Jerry Schnoor in the university's Geology and Civil and Environmental Engineering Department have been pioneers in the utilization of plant life for environmental cleanups since 1984. Phytoremediation uses the root systems of plants and trees to remove hydrocarbon contamination naturally from soil and groundwater.
Under the direction of the two scientists, Unocal has implemented phytoremediation projects in constructed wetlands in Alaska oil fields and the use of hybrid poplar trees to remediate former refinery sites in Ohio and West Virginia. Separately, the company has undertaken a phytoremediation project utilizing willow trees at a former oil field site in California and is currently seeking regulatory approval to apply the technology at other sites in the U.S.
Under certain conditions, phytoremediation can replace the more traditional and typically expensive mechanical technologies that have included dig and haul, pump and treat, soil venting and air sparging, which are generally invasive and harmful to habitats.
Phtyoremediation has been proven to be a clean, quiet, economical, and aesthetically pleasing means of remediating hydrocarbons and other contaminants including nitrates, pesticides, and landfill leachate. Professors Drake and Schnoor are also investigating its potential in treating heavy metal and radioactive impacted sites and will use a portion of the gift to fund research in this area.
The check for the grant was presented by two Unocal representatives, both coincidentally graduates of Iowa colleges and universities -- Jim Dean (Iowa State University) and Joel Garretson (Iowa Wesleyan College).
Unocal is a leading global oil and gas exploration and production company with significant pipeline and power plant development projects worldwide. The Asset Management Group is responsible for the management and disposition of surplus company real estate.
Updated: September 1999