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Soil Vapor Extraction: What Is It?

Soil Vapor Extraction: What Is It?

Soil contamination is not uncommon and often requires environmental remediation and engineering services to remedy. There are several methods of site remediation that can assist with eliminating toxins. One of the most common and effective methods is known as Soil Vapor Extraction (SVE).

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) helped develop SVE programs that typically guide companies and sites through the extraction process to help protect the environment, your workers, and those who will come in contact with that area in the future.

What Is Soil Vapor Extraction?

Soil Vapor Extraction, otherwise known as SVE, is a technology that extracts toxins from contaminated soil and is the most effective for work sites with permeable soil and various volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The extraction removes toxins from below the ground to above the ground to be treated.

SVC remediation uses vacuum blowers and extraction wells to remove the vapor from the soil. Extraction wells can be installed vertically or horizontally depending on site conditions. The soil found within these wells contains air and moisture, and this vapor is extracted from the soil through the vacuuming process.

Another process that is typically used alongside soil vapor extraction is air sparging. Air sparging is a process that pumps air underground to remove VOC from the groundwater so that it can be recovered by the vapor extraction system. The added air helps make the chemicals evaporate faster, which helps make SVE technology more efficient at extracting the vapor.

Why Does My Site Need Vapor Extraction?

If the soil at your site is contaminated with toxins such as VOCs, vapor extraction may be the best remedial solution. If untreated, you run the risk of further environmental impacts, fines, and harm to those who come in contact with the work site.

There are specific regulations that control and guide procedures for contaminant extraction, and adhering to these helps avoid lawsuits and protect the environment.

The Process

The process of VOC extraction is relatively straightforward. First, a vacuum is applied to an area of soil with VOCs through drilling extraction wells. Then, the soil vapors contaminated beneath the surface are extracted through a vacuum created using a blower or a vacuum pump.

The vacuum pulls the air, and the vapor, out of the soil to the surface. The VOC can then be treated and removed. At times, covers are added to this system to prevent vapor from escaping, or air sparging is used alongside SVE technology. Air sparging involves drilling wells into the underground soil below the water table. Then, an air compressor on the surface pumps air through the wells into the ground, creating air bubbles in the groundwater. These bubbles carry the contaminants up through the ground as vapors. Once this is complete, the vapors can be pulled out and treated through SVE technology.

Alongside these processes, additional technologies can be used to improve the effectiveness of SVE. If SVE is to extract pollutants, it must work properly to do so. Enhancements can be made during the process of extraction that can help improve airflow and encourage more toxin release.

The first thing would be directional drilling and wells. Using existing wells, if available, can save time and money, but if you need to drill wells, drill in specific directions to encourage gas flow. Thermal changes may also help.

A warmer temperature will encourage more vapor release, which helps with pollutant extraction. This increase in temperature can be done by injecting hot air into the soil. Overall, this technology is not always practical, but following the process and encouraging enhancements can make this process as seamless as possible.


At Alpha-Omega Training and Compliance, Inc. (AOTC), we specialize in environmental remediation and engineering solutions to ensure a safe working environment and avoid costly fines and fees. Our approach is proactive and comprehensive – leaving no stone unturned. We will help identify contaminants and pollutants and assist in the remediation of surface water, groundwater, sediment, soil, and other environmental factors.

Our specialties include:

  • Contamination Assessment
  • Phase I, II, & III Assessments
  • Multimedia Sampling, Monitoring & Permitting
  • Remedial Investigation
  • Land Development
  • Transportation
  • 24-Hour Emergency Spill Response
  • Hazardous & Industrial Waste Management
  • Annual Stormwater Sampling (NPDES)
  • Emergency Action/Preparedness Plans
  • Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plans
  • On-site Environmental Audits and Program Development
  • Remediation of contaminated sites
  • FDEP Preapproval Program
  • Water supply and water resource projects
  • Water and wastewater treatment and distribution
  • Environmental permitting (air, NPDES, POTW)
  • Environmental compliance plans (SPCC, SWPPP)
  • Water resource engineering
  • O&M and Field support

Contact us today to discuss your soil remediation options and discover how our years of experience can help protect both the environment and your business.


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