REGROUND newsletter
 Nº 3 / JULY 2017
REGROUND aims at restoring contaminated groundwater aquifers by developing a novel technology for the injection of iron oxide nanoparticles into groundwater contaminant plumes. This project addresses mainly arsenic and the known major groundwater contaminants (barium, cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, nickel, zinc).

The goal of this project is to create a market-ready application to transform the efforts to mitigate the risks posed by toxic metal contaminations to humans and ecosystems.

REGROUND will enable immobilization of toxic metal contaminations at sites which are currently left untreated due to technical or economic reasons. To that end, the communication and dissemination strategy will concentrate on persuading the stakeholders that this project could offer a new opportunity in terms of sustainability and also have a positive impact on society.




Daniela Montalvo, from @LeuvenU, presented their work for @RegroundEU in the Latin American Soil Science Congress last week #Quito


We've just released our second newsletter. Check it out here:…] #water #groundwater #metals


Reground EU Project LinkedIn Group
Reground EU Project LinkedIn Group
Waste water treatment Equipment Manufacturer & Supplier
Waste water treatment Equipment Manufacturer & Supplier


Evaluation of Test (Pilot) Injections

The pilot tests applied in June 2016 in two contaminated aquifers (Barreiro, Portugal, and La Felguera, Spain) were evaluated in terms of the effect of nanoparticle injection on hydrogeology of aquifers and on removal of heavy metals from groundwater.

In Barreiro it was observed that the nanoparticles showed reduced mobility. Therefore a modification of nanoparticles and injection strategy was proposed. UDE, responsible for nanoparticle production, improved the nanoparticles by reducing the aggregate sizes, and increasing stability time of the colloidal suspensions. The results of slug tests were also used to calibrate the simple 3D numerical model developed by POLITO. This model was then used to predict the nanoparticle transport and their effect on hydrogeology of the aquifer during main injections.

In the case of Spanish site, limited clogging and reduction in hydraulic permeability was observed. The main concern in this case was the heterogeneity of the aquifer. Therefore a more elaborated site characterization was planned. It included, among the other things, permeability measurement at different depths, taking undisturbed cores, etc. These information were carefully analyzed and then implemented into the 3D model developed by POLITO. The calibrated model was then used to predict the main application, providing the consortium with suggestion to improve the efficiency of barrier installment.

Following the remediation plan for test injections, groundwater and soil samples were taken and analyzed before, during, and until four months after each injection. These samples were analyzed by FSU. Analysis of soil samples for Iron provided us with the fate of injection nanoparticles. In Barreiro, most of nanoparticles traveled to shallower portions of aquifer and precipitated near groundwater level and into unsaturated zone. In Nitrastur, the injected nanoparticles followed the most conductive pathways (as groundwater) and resided in such areas. These analyses matched the events and observations during the test injections. Furthermore they suggest that the NPs settled in the close vicinity of the injection points and do not travel with groundwater to unwanted regions.

Post injection groundwater samples were also analyzed and compared to control wells, and pre-injection samples. The analysis of groundwater samples suggested a partial remediation in targeted areas. This partial remediation was found mostly due to heterogeneity of the aquifers. For example, in case of the Spanish site, the injected nanoparticles followed high conductive layers which were placed at the bottom of aquifer, while the source of contamination was within unsaturated zone, where no particles were injected.  Therefore, with each infiltration event, a new plume of heavy metal contaminates may enter the top portion of aquifer. Therefore the location for the barrier for the main application was chosen downstream the pilot area, where the input rate of contaminant was lower. Additional monitoring was also considered to quantify the input of heavy metals from top layers. Despite these heterogeneities, Removal of two main contaminants, As and Zn, was observed in lowest, high conductive portion of the aquifer, through which main part of groundwater flows.

Following a suggestion by Project Advisory Group, a filtration process was added to monitoring and analysis. It was observed that part of heavy metal observed in post-injection groundwater samples (supposedly not removed from groundwater) was actually adsorbed to injected iron oxide nanoparticles that were still mobile in vicinity of sampling points. Therefore a modification in particles and in injection scenarios was applied to ensure the complete precipitation on nanoparticles shortly after injection.

From two pilot injections, we gained more information about the characteristics of each site, as well as the fate of the injected nanoparticles and their efficiency in removal of heavy metals. This information was used to develop the remediation and monitoring plan for the main application.

Main application

During April and May 2017, REGROUND applied first full-scale installment of permeable reactive barrier using Iron-oxide nanoparticles. The injections took place in same contaminated aquifers as pilot injections (June 2016); one in Barreiro, Portugal, and one in La Felguera, Spain. Prior to application, a remediation and monitoring plan was prepared. At each site, 9 injection wells were designed to inject REGROUND nanoparticles into aquifer. Four multichannel wells and 11 normal pizeometers were also placed in order to monitor the transport of NPs and efficiency of installed barriers. A 3D numerical model was developed and used in order to simulate the hydrogeological effects of NP injection into each aquifer. The model was calibrated based on the data acquired during and after test pilot injections (June 2016).

For each site ca. 15000 KG of concentrated nanoparticles was produced and modified according to heavy metal contamination in groundwater. This is the first large-scale production of nanomaterials for a field application. The produced nanoparticles were designed in a way to remain stable during transport to site and during injection into aquifer, where then they are destabilized and precipitate on sediments. These immobilized nanoparticles then adsorbed heavy metal contamination dissolved in groundwater.

The nanoparticles were diluted on site using local municipally water and then were injected. In Barreiro and Nitrastur, after observing NPs in downgradient wells, Calcium was injected downstream the barrier in order to ensure faster immobilization of all nanopartilces inside planned barrier.

Before, during, and after injection of REGROUND nanoparticles, groundwater and soil samples were taken according to the monitoring plan. These samples were analyzed (and continuously will be taken and analyzed) using high accuracy analytical tools in order to monitor the effects of nanoparticle injection in immobilization of toxic heavy metals. Hydrological tests such as slug test were also performed, and showed limited effects on normal groundwater flow.

In coming months, additional groundwater and soil samples will be taken and analyzed to continuously monitor the efficiency of installed barrier. These analytical results then will be combined by Life Cycle Assessment and Market analysis into a business plan


REGROUND has actively submitted reports to European commission in form of deliverables, interim report (Feb-Apr. 2017), project briefings, etc. REGROUND members also promoted their research and technology in international conferences and journals.


Journal of Nanoparticle Research


Colloidal behavior of goethite nanoparticles modified with humic acid and implications for aquifer reclamation

MEDIA: Journal of Nanoparticle Research

TITLE: "Colloidal behavior of goethite nanoparticles modified with humic acid and implications for aquifer reclamation"


AUTHORS: Tiraferri, Alberto; Saldarriaga Hernandez, Laura Andrea; Bianco, Carlo; Tosco, Tiziana; Sethi, Rajandrea
More info





ICOBTE conference

ATTENDEE: Daniela Montalvo (KU Leuven)

CONTRIBUTION: Presentation about the MNM3D software where the partners presented an application to the simulation of the Pilot injection in Reground.
More info



LYON (FRANCE) ·JUNE 26-30th, 2017



TITLEMNM3D: a modelling tool for simulation of nanoparticle injection and transport in 3D geometries

CONTRIBUTION: Presentation about the MNM3D software where the partners presented an application to the simulation of the Pilot injection in Reground.
More info
KIMconference 2017


KIMconference 2017

ATTENDEE: Oriol Jimeno (KIM)

CONTRIBUTION: KIM organized the annual conference on technology transfer where the main topic discussed this year has been on how disruptive innovations in the horizon of the coming years will affect our society.
REGROUND project was exposed as an example of an innovation developed to improve the quality of life in the societies facing groundwater difficulties.
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International Conference on Porous Media & Annual Meeting of Interpore

ATTENDEE: Sadjad Mohammadian (UDE)

CONTRIBUTION: Dr. Mohammadian promoted REGROUND with a Poster titled: 'Nanoparticles for Permeable reactive barriers: Production and application of mobile particles'. On Wednesday, May 10, he briefly presented REGROUND and his poster in a poster-pitch session. The poster attracted good audience, especially among the scientists who were interested in field application of colloidal transport.
More info
EGU 2017


EGU 2017


TITLE : Simulating nanoparticle transport in 3D geometries with MNM3D

CONTRIBUTION: Presentation about the MNM3D software where the partners presented an application to the simulation of the Pilot injection in Reground.
More info

Project Coordinator:

University of Duisburg-Essen
Campus Essen - Biofilm Centre -
Universitätsstr. 5, 45141 Essen


Project partners:

Communication Manager:

Knowledge Innovation Market - KIM
Venezuela, 103, 1ª planta
08019 Barcelona

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