Ariel Nunez Garcia

Nano Zerovalent Iron (nZVI) for In Situ Remediation

Despite the advances in remediation methods over the last two decades, existing technologies are rarely able to achieve clean-up goals and meet regulatory standards. The development of new and more effective remediation technologies is an area of constant research. Amongst the emerging technologies, nano zerovalent iron (nZVI) stands out as one of the most promising. One of the main advantages of nZVI is that it can be applied in situ to target contaminants (e.g., chlorinated solvents) deposited at the bottom of aquifers. These contaminants are denser than water, recalcitrant, and mobile when present in the aqueous phase, traveling along with the groundwater for long distances. My research work focusses on the field implementation of nZVI for the remediation of chlorinated solvents. After injection into the subsurface, nZVI reacts with chlorinated compounds and transforms the carcinogenic contaminants into benign compounds (e.g., ethene).

The goal of this project is to improve our fundamental understanding of smouldering combustion of an organic liquid in an inert porous medium. The main methodology will be to answer the question: what is the least complex set of mass, momentum, energy and chemical reaction equations required to describe the system behaviour of STAR in a one-dimensional system? The project will address different kinetic reaction frameworks (from simple to complex) for coal tar and bitumen smouldering in a one-dimensional model developed in COMSOL Multiphysics that will take into account local thermal non-equilibrium among phases. The numerical simulations will explore the ability of the model to simulate different key smouldering scenarios and transition points (i.e., appropriate sensitivity to key boundary conditions and model parameters).

Personal Background

I am originally from the Dominican Republic. In 2012 I completed my Bachelor of Science (BS) in Environmental Engineering at Utah State University (USU), Utah. While at USU, I participated in numerous student design competitions and held leadership positions in various student associations. In 2012 I first moved to Canada to start my Master of Engineering Science (MESc) at Western University, where I also completed my PhD in 2019, both in Environmental Engineering. I am currently a Postdoctoral Associate in the RESTORE group.


  • Industrial Postgraduate Scholarship, NSERC 2015 – 2017
  • R.M. Quigley Award, University of Western Ontario 2013
  • Presidential Scholarship, Dominican Republic Government 2007 – 2012