Contamination from organic compounds such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEX) represent a common issue in the oil and gas industry. A number of technologies have been developed and demonstrated for the treatment of groundwater contaminated with these compounds. Some of these technologies include advanced oxidation process (AOP), steam stripping, air stripping and more recently, monitored natural attenuation. Each technology has its own set of advantages and limitations. As an example, the AOP technology gained some popularity in the 1990s as a remediation technology for treating trace concentrations of organic contaminants; however, power consumption of AOP treatment plants is relatively high. This energy consumption constitutes the majority of the plant operating cost and adds to the general demand on electricity.
A solar-based AOP technology was developed by a group of Canadian researchers. This solar detoxification process offers the potential for significant energy savings in the treatment of groundwater. This new technology could contribute to the reduction of the environmental footprint from oil and gas production and at the same time demonstrate an innovative approach in alternate energy source application.