SUSTAINABLE APPROACH FOR DUST SUPRESSION
Presley Ramirez, Teamrat Ghezzehei.
University of California, Merced, Merced, CA.
Dust emission is a major environmental problem that has negative implications on health and industrial applications. This problem is expanding for a number of reasons, including climate change-induced increase in drought frequency and magnitude and rapid growth of solar power plants in areas where the soil has been protected by fragile bio-crust. Current technologies for suppression of dust emission involve either slowing down wind using breakers (e.g., plants or mechanical structures) or (bio)chemical stabilization of the soil surface. Most stabilizers are toxic and expensive, which limits their application. The objective of this study is to test inexpensive and non-hazardous approaches to soil stabilization. Recent research in our group has revealed a process of soil stabilization by using small amounts of cementing agents. Wetting and drying cycles in the presence of dilute solutions of biologically derived long-chain polymers results in strong adhesion between soil particles. In this study, we tested whether dilute solutions of xanthan gum and PGA can be used as soil stabilizers. Both of these polymers are mimics of plant and bacteria derived polymers that are known to form stable soil aggregates. The commercially available compounds we used are widely used as additives in the food industry and are non-toxic. We tested the effectiveness of this approach by subjecting the soil crusts to artificial wind energy. The results of this research can have important implications for dust suppression in areas where airborne diseases are prevalent and near solar-power facilities.