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C. Steam cleaning: An Environmental Breakthrough

Narrator: This is Science Today. Contaminants such as gasoline and cleaning solvents can be removed from the soil more efficiently using a new heat and steam-cleaning method. Chemist Roger Aines at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory says the steam process is quicker, and therefore cheaper, than the older method called pump entry.

Aines: The best analogy is a dirty sponge. Imagine that you've got soap in a sponge. Well, that's what contamination in the ground is like. And you run some water over the sponge and it doesn't take the contamination out of the inside, you squeeze the sponge and something comes out you squeeze it again, you squeeze it again, you squeeze it again ...let's say you may have to squeeze it twenty times, fill it with clean water each time. That's what pumping treat is like.

Narrator: And each squeeze takes a couple of years. Instead, Aines and his colleagues knocked off several years using steam to remove gas spills and solvents from the soil.

Aines: By heating it up, you simply vaporize most of the contaminant and you can move it out very quickly then.

Narrator: Aines hopes to use this method on the biggest and worst of the superfund sites. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.