PSU geologists and microbiologists have patented a way to protect dams from destruction at high concentrations of methane at their base. The new method will improve the safety of the operation of those dams dependent on sandy and clay soils.
“Dams based on clay and sandy soils are potentially susceptible to intensive microbiological processes, as a result of which an abnormal amount of methane can be released in underground space, compared to normal conditions. This, in turn, can lead to the softening of soils and the deterioration of their physical and mechanical properties compared with the design, and therefore negatively affect the safe operation of hydraulic structures. We saw our task in resolution of this problem, ” states Artyom Demenev, senior researcher, PSU Natural Sciences Institute.
PSU scientists have suggested that iron chloride (FeCl₃) be injected into the ground through injection wells and emitters. The addition of additional substances will reduce the emission of methane by microbes, preventing the destruction of dams.
“Microorganisms found in sand and clay can consume all kinds of substances and emit methane during their processing. We decided to replace the products they consume with iron chloride, during the processing of which only iron oxide is released in acceptable standards. Thus, methane emissions will be less, which means the properties of soils should not deteriorate, ”Vadim Khmurchik, senior researcher, PSU Natural Sciences Institute
According to the research team, the solution they propose is cheaper than standard methods of control, as well as environment-friendly.
“Usually, special antiseptics are used to solve such problems, but they are more expensive and toxic than the method offered. In addition, the formation of harmful substances during the implementation of our technology is reduced, in comparison with traditional methods, ”Nikolai Maksimovich, Honored Ecologist of the Russian Federation, Deputy Director, PSU Institute of Natural Sciences.
The invention by PSU researchers may be applied around the Volga basin and South Russia, as well as other territories with increased methane generation at the base of dams. It’s adaptation also appears reasonable for the use in landfills and waste shafts with significant underground methane emissions.