Faculty Advisor

Bergendahl, John A.


Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) is an additive in gasoline, that was used during the phase out of lead to maintain octane ratings, and later used to increase the amount of oxygen in gasoline to create clearer burning fuel. Due to gasoline spills, leaking underground storage tanks (LUST) and leaking underground fuel tanks (LUFT), MTBE has contaminated underground aquifers and groundwater that lead to drinking water sources. Contamination is a significant issue in drinking water because MTBE is considered a possible carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency and has a very high solubility, therefore, resisting removal from water. The removal technique discussed here is a variation on Fenton's reagent; the use of iron and hydrogen peroxide to convert the MTBE molecule into harmless components. The variation is the iron source. Fenton's typically used a liquid form of iron, FeSO; here a solid form of iron, steel wool, is used to reduce the cost of continuously adding the liquid iron.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

January 2004


Civil Engineering

Project Type

Major Qualifying Project


Restricted-WPI community only

Advisor Department

Civil and Environmental Engineering