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“Cyclodextrin is a type of sugar made from corn starch,” explains Boving. “It’s better than other technologies for cleaning up hazardous materials because it’s nontoxic and leaving it underground for a period of time causes no harm.”
Cyclodextrin has a chemical structure and therefore, is an attraction for many toxic materials like solvents, pesticides and plycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. The process for the new technology involves injecting cyclodextrin into contaminated soil and groundwater. After the material attracts the contaminants, Boving will pump the cyclodextrin out of the ground.
The team has worked on a method to strip the contaminants from the cyclodextrin for reuse of this costly material. The field demonstation will take place at a military installation in Virginia beginning in May.