DESOTEC helps to combat the acrylonitrile pollution in Wetteren, Belgium

In the East-Flemish municipality of Wetteren east of Ghent, around 2 o'clock on the 4th May 2013, a freight train derailment caused a number of wagons carrying chemical products to explode and this caused an inferno. The train was transporting the chemical acrylonitrile, a very inflammable fluid. It can cause breathing problems.

What is acrylonitrile?

The train passing trough Wetteren was carrying huge amounts of the hazardous chemical acrylonitrile. Acrylonitrile is a highly flammable  compound, which is often used in the production of useful plastics and synthetic rubbers. As mentioned above, acrylonitrile can cause severe breathing problems when exposed to it by inhalation or oral routes.

Groundwater purification: activated carbon filters to the rescue!

Due to the explosion, the acrylonitrile containers ruptured causing the chemical compound to contaminate the sewage system and groundwater near the accident.  Shortly after the incident, an environmental specialist of the Infrabel (the company responsible for the Belgium railway infrastructure) checked the possibilities of DESOTEC mobile purification solutions to treat the contaminated groundwater.

As first remediation, it was decided to excavate the contaminated soil and transport it to a thermal soil-recycling centre. A drainage collector system was placed to extract the groundwater from the soil. Two MOBICON® activated carbon filters were installed in series to remediate the water extracted from the drains.  Two MOBICON®’s in series filled with ORGANSORB® 10CO have proven to be an efficient way to remove acrylonitrile and other by-products in a safe way. The used or spent carbon will be thermally processed at a third party hazardous waste treatment facility.

DESOTEC Mobicon activated carbon filter

Meanwhile, the Belgian railway company (NMBS) announced it will be putting the Schellebelle-Wetteren train line back into service as of June 29th, thanks to a successful operation.

Activated carbon filters: flexible, high-end purification solutions

DESOTEC Activated Carbon is an international developer, producer and supplier of purification solutions mainly based on activated carbon technology. Our complete solutions include the supply of a wide range of mobile adsorption systems, the design, construction and start up of tailor made fixed systems and the recycling of used activated carbon.

The AIRCON® mobile adsorption systems are designed to purify gases using the AIRPEL range of products while our MOBICON® systems are used to purify liquids with the ORGANOSORB® range of products.  The secret of our success is our vision of customer service, 24 hours per day and 7 days a week.



At DESOTEC’s facilities, all used carbon is analysed so the right measures can be taken for handling and removing the saturated carbon out of the mobile filters. All molecules that were adsorbed on the activated carbon at the customers’ site, are desorbed inside DESOTEC’s reactivation furnaces. These contaminants are then fully destroyed, in accordance with National and European legislationby an incineration and neutralisation setup. The entire installation and it's emissions are under continuous on-line monitoring, which guarantees that only harmless water vapour is seen exiting the chimney.