New Technology Improves PCB clean-up

New Technology Improves PCB clean-up

TransCanada-sponsored R&D project has resulted in an innovative solution that promises a safer and less expensive method of removing PCBs from soil using ultraviolet light in a mobile remediation system

Multimedia from this Release

Friday, October 11, 2013 - 9:45am


University of Calgary researhers have developed new technology that promises a safer, more efficient way to clean up hazardous polychlorinaed biphenyls (PCBs) in soil using ultraviolet light – the first technology of its kind in the world.

The university research team in collaboration with TransCanada, Innovate Calgary, SAIT Polytechnic and IPAC Services Corp., created a 15-metre-long, mobile cleanup unit that is ready for field-testing on PCB-contaminated soil.

TransCanada has invested approximately $500,000 in the 13-year research and development project that now promises to provide industry with a safer, more convenient and much less costly way of remediating PCBs in the environment.

“We are confident this technology will work. We’ve established the process, tested it successfully in the laboratory and published many scientific papers,” says Gopal Achari, professor of civil engineering in the Schulich School of Engineering’s Centre for Environmental Engineering Research and Education.

“The pilot, mobile cleanup unit is designed to get this technology into the hands of a company that can bring it forward into regular, widespread use,” says Cooper Langford, professor of chemistry in the Faculty of Science, and an internationally recognized expert in photochemistry.

Globally, millions of tonnes of PCBs were produced and used in hundreds of industrial and commercial applications before being banned in 1979. Research showed the toxic organic chemical compounds could enter the food chain and potentially cause reproductive and developmental damage as well as cancer.

Spills, legal and illegal disposal, and uncontrolled use prior to 1979 resulted in an estimated one-third of the total U.S. production of 635,000 tonnes being released into the North American environment.

Learn more about this project on the TransCanada blog.