Ultrasound to decontaminate organics in dredged sediments

Jay N. Meegoda, Kanya Veerawat

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Sediments contaminated with organics compounds due to past disposal practices threaten the environment and require remediation. This study was an attempt to develop a technology to decontaminate organics in dredged sediments using ultrasound coupled with vacuum pressure. A set of laboratory scale experiments were carried out using simulated dredged sediments from New York/New Jersey harbor, category III sediments that failed to meet USEPA requirements for toxicity or bioaccumulation, and required secure disposal. Acoustic cavitation due to ultrasound energy coupled with vacuum pressure was used to facilitate the removal of p-terphenyl (the selected organic contaminant) from the sediments. Two coupled processes were used to separate and to treat both coarse (Process 1) and fine (Process 2) fractions of sediments. Selected variables for evaluation of Process 1 were ultrasound power, solvent to sediment ratio, vacuum pressure, and sonication time. Process 2 was evaluated without and with surfactants. Process 2 without surfactant had three variables: power, solvent to sediment ratio, and sonication time, while Process 2 with surfactant had four variable contributing to its performance: power, solvent to sediment ratio, surfactant concentration, and sonication time. Laboratory-scale experiments were carried out with various combinations of these parameters according to the factorial design. Experimental test results showed that Process 1 had 99% contaminant removal efficiency at 60% power (900 Watts), 15:1 solvent to sediment ratio, 15 psi vacuum pressure, and 9 min of sonication time. Similarly, Process 2 without the surfactant had 55% contaminant removal efficiency at 80% power (1200 Watts), 50:1 solvent to sediment ratio, and 90 min of sonication time. Modification of Process 2 with the addition of a surfactant produced 89% contaminant removal efficiency at 80% power (1200 Watts), 50:1 solvent to sediment ratio, 0.1% surfactant concentration, and 60 min of sonication time. The study showed that the proposed treatment technique is effective for treating dredged sediments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-116
Number of pages26
JournalSoil and Sediment Contamination
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Soil Science
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


  • Decontamination and experimental design
  • Dredged sediments
  • P-Terphenyl
  • Surfactant
  • Ultrasound


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