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Remediation Technologies Screening Matrix, Version 4.0 4.32 Air Sparging
(In Situ GW Remediation Technology)
  Description Synonyms Applicability Limitations Site Information Points of Contact
Data Needs Performance Cost References Vendor Info. Health & Safety
Table of Contents
Technology>>Ground Water, Surface Water, and Leachate

>>3.10 In Situ Physical/Chemical Treatment

      >>4.32 Air Sparging
Introduction>> Air is injected into saturated matrices to remove contaminants through volatilization.


Figure 4-32:
Typical Air Sparging System
Air sparging is an in situ technology in which air is injected through a contaminated aquifer. Injected air traverses horizontally and vertically in channels through the soil column, creating an underground stripper that removes contaminants by volatilization. This injected air helps to flush (bubble) the contaminants up into the unsaturated zone where a vapor extraction system is usually implemented in conjunction with air sparging to remove the generated vapor phase contamination. This technology is designed to operate at high flow rates to maintain increased contact between ground water and soil and strip more ground water by sparging.

Oxygen added to contaminated ground water and vadose zone soils can also enhance biodegradation of contaminants below and above the water table.

Air sparging has a medium to long duration which may last, generally, up to a few years.

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In-situ air sparging, in-situ aeration.
DSERTS Code: F14 (Air Sparging)

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The target contaminant groups for air sparging are VOCs and fuels. Only limited information is available on the process. Methane can be used as an amendment to the sparged air to enhance cometabolism of chlorinated organics.

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Factors that may limit the applicability and effectiveness of the process include:
  • Air flow through the saturated zone may not be uniform, which implies that there can be uncontrolled movement of potentially dangerous vapors.
  • Depth of contaminants and specific site geology must be considered.
  • Air injection wells must be designed for site-specific conditions.
  • Soil heterogeneity may cause some zones to be relatively unaffected.

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Data Needs:

A detailed discussion of these data elements is provided in Subsection 2.2.2. (Data Requirements for Ground Water, Surface Water, and Leachate). Characteristics that should be determined include vadose zone gas permeability, depth to water, ground water flow rate, radial influence of the sparging well, aquifer permeability and heterogeneities, presence of low permeability layers, presence of DNAPLs, depth of contamination, and contaminant volatility and solubility. Additionally, it is often useful to collect air-saturation data, in the saturated zone, during an air sparging test, using a neutron probe.

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Performance Data:

This technology is demonstrated at numerous sites, though only a few sites are well documented. Air sparging has demonstrated sensitivity to minute permeability changes, which can result in localized stripping between the sparge and monitoring wells.

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The key cost driver information and cost analysis was developed in 2006 using the Remedial Action Cost Engineering and Requirements (RACER) software.

Key Cost Drivers 

        Surface area (contaminant orientation)

o       Surface area of contamination is the primary cost driver, and directly affects the quantity of air sparge points.

        Depth to Contamination

o       Depth is the secondary cost driver.  Cost increases with depth since it impacts the drilling costs.

Cost Analysis

The following table represents estimated costs (by common unit of measure) to apply air sparging technology at sites of varying size and complexity.   A more detailed cost estimate table which includes specific site characteristics and significant cost elements that contributed to the final costs can be viewed by clicking on the link below.


Air Sparging



Scenario A

Scenario B

Scenario C

Scenario D

Small Site

Large Site

























 Detailed Cost Estimate

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Treatment Technologies for Site Cleanup: Annual Status Report (ASR), Tenth Edition, EPA 542-R-01-004

Innovative Remediation Technologies:  Field Scale Demonstration Project in North America, 2nd Edition

Treatment Experiences at RCRA Corrective Actions, December 2000, EPA 542-F-00-020

Abstracts of Remediation Case Studies, Volume 4,  June, 2000, EPA 542-R-00-006

Guide to Documenting and Managing Cost and Performance Information for Remediation Projects - Revised Version, October, 1998, EPA 542-B-98-007

MTBE Treatment Case Studies
presented by the USEPA Office of Underground Storage Tanks.

American Petroleum Institute (API), 1996. In-Situ Air Sparging, First Edition. Publ 1628D.

California Base Closure Environmental Committee (CBCEC), 1994. Treatment Technologies Applications Matrix for Base Closure Activities, Revision 1, Technology Matching Process Action Team, November, 1994.

DOE, 1994. Technology Application Analysis: Petroleum Product Recovery and Contaminated Groundwater Remediation Amoco Petroleum Pipeline Constantine, MI, prepared by Stone & Webster Environmental Technology & Services.

DOE, 1994. Technology Application Analysis: Recovery of Free Petroleum ProductFort Drum, Fuel Dispensing Area 1595 Watertown, New York, prepared by Stone & Webster Environmental Technology & Services.

DOE, 1994. Technology Application Analysis: Density-Driven Groundwater Sparging at Amcor Precast Ogden,Utah, prepared by Stone & Webster Environmental Technology & Services.

EPA, 1995. Remediation Case Studies: Groundwater Treatment, Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable Report, EPA/542/R-95/003.

EPA, 1997. Analysis of Selected Enhancements for Soil Vapor Extraction, EPA OSWER, EPA/542/R-97/007.

ESTCP Document, 1999. Draft Air Sparging Design Paradigm.

EPA, 2001. A Citizen's Guide to Soil Vapor Extraction and Air Sparging. EPA 542-F-01-006.

Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable, 1995. Remediation Case Studies: Bioremediation, EPA/542/R-95/002.

Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable, 1995. Remediation Case Studies: Groundwater Treatment, EPA/542/R-95/003.

Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable, 1998. Remediation Case Studies: In Situ Soil Treatment Technologies (Soil Vapor Extraction, Thermal Processes), EPA/542/R-98/012

Federal Remediation Technologies Roundtable, 1998. Remediation Case Studies: Innovative Groundwater Treatment Technologies, EPA/542/R-98/015.

Hildebrandt, W. and F. Jasiulewicz, 1992. "Cleaning Up Military Bases," The Military Engineer, No. 55, p. 7, September-October 1992.

USACE, 1997. In Situ Air Sparging Engineer Manual, EM 1110-1-4005.

Treatment Technologies Applications Matrix for Base Closure Activities, November 1994

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Site Information:

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Points of Contact:

General FRTR Agency Contacts

Technology Specific Web Sites:

Government Web Sites

Non Government Web Sites

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Vendor Information:

A list of vendors offering In Situ Physical/Chemical Water Treatment is available from EPA REACH IT which combines information from three established EPA databases, the Vendor Information System for Innovative Treatment Technologies (VISITT), the Vendor Field Analytical and Characterization Technologies System (Vendor FACTS), and the Innovative Treatment Technologies (ITT), to give users access to comprehensive information about treatment and characterization technologies and their applications.

Government Disclaimer

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Health and Safety:

Hazard Analysis

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