VEGAS Profile

Research Facility for Subsurface Remediation (VEGAS)

The Research Facility for Subsurface Remediation (VEGAS) is available to public or private interested parties from home and abroad to carry out research and development projects. The knowledge and technologies gained through VEGAS are put into practice through pilot applications, training courses and conferences.

  •  The research facility for subsurface remediation, VEGAS, the only one of its kind in Germany, is affiliated to the Universität Stuttgart.
  •  The main research topic of VEGAS is the remediation of contaminations in soil and groundwater as well as brownfield redevelopment.
  •  VEGAS was founded in 1995, jointly funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of the Environment Baden-Württemberg.
  •  VEGAS is characterized by national and international interdisciplinary cooperation between natural scientists and engineers.
  •  VEGAS research projects include fundamental research as well as the development of prototypes and remediation technologies. Experiments are conducted from the lab scale to the technical scale using large containers.
  •  The knowledge and technology derived from VEGAS projects are put into practice in pilot applications, training sessions and conferences.
  •  The VEGAS facility is available for research and development projects to the public and private sectors both in Germany and abroad.
  •  Users bear the costs of their individual research projects carried out in VEGAS.

A pre-requisite for developing remediation technologies is a thorough understanding of the underlying processes, the physical parameters and the constitutive relationships derived from them.

Capillary pressure – saturation relationships are determined with new continuous measuring techniques.

Ternary and quarternary phase diagrams are fundamental to understanding multiphase / multicomponent flows.

The dependence of density, viscosity, vapor pressure and interfacial tension on temperature is decisive for the development of thermal remediation processes.

Innovative technical measuring systems are developed to ensure a precise and cost-effective delineation of source zones.

On the basis of the fundamental constitutive relationships, numerical models are developed at the Institute of Hydraulic Engineering (LH2) for a better understanding of multiphase / multicomponent flows.

The development of new technological approaches begins on the small (one- and two-dimensional) scale.

The relevant processes underlying the development of new technologies are investigated in column experiments under carefully controlled conditions.

Following successful one-dimensional experiments, the technology is advanced in larger, two-dimensional experimental containers. This entails an increase in the complexity of the porous-media structure (homogeneous – heterogeneous) and a broader range of contaminants.

Lab experiments are designed with the aid of numerical simulations that are also used to interpret the results. The data gained are in turn used to advance and validate the numerical models.

Large-scale three-dimensional experiments complete the developments of technologies and bridge the gap to field applications.

In the large VEGAS containers (volume up to 800 m3), in-situ remediation technologies for contaminated sites can be developed under near-natural conditions without endangering the environment.

In contrast to small-scale lab experiments, this allows prototype technologies to be tested under conditions similar to those in the field. These large-scale investigations have considerable advantages over field experiments. The aquifer composition and the type, extent and distribution of the contaminants can be defined. Moreover, the boundary conditions can be controlled.
Closely spaced sampling locations enable high data resolution, online monitoring and hence continuous feedback throughout the remediation as well as a good mass balance.

Numerical methods for simulating and forecasting remediation and containment measures are used and developed at the Institut für Wasser- und Umwelsystemmodellierung (Institute for Modelling Hydraulic and Environmental Systems) in close cooperation with VEGAS. They are implemented to monitor the experiments and to support the transfer of results to field applications (upscaling).

Large-scale experiments for the remediation of organic contaminants (LNAPL and DNAPL) as well as inorganic contaminations (source and plume remediation) in the saturated (s) and/or unsaturated (u) zone:

  • Hydraulic remediation using “co-solvents”, e.g. alcohols (s/u), micro-emulsion (s)
  • Steam and steam-air injection (s/u)
  • THERIS: thermal wells (s/u)
  • DHR: siphon reactor (s)
  • ENA: enhanced natural attenuation, e.g. addition of H202 (s)

Pilot studies for LNAPL and DNAPL remediation following successful large-scale experiments in VEGAS:

  • Hydraulic remediation using surfactants (s)
  • Steam-air injection (s/u)
  • THERIS, thermal wells
  • ENA: enhanced natural attenuation, e.g. addition of H202 (s)

Scientific support of field applications::

  • DHR: siphon reactor (s)
  • Steam-air injection (s/u)
  • THERIS: thermal wells (s/u)

VEGAS is always on the look-out for suitable application sites for its innovative technologies!

To ascertain and assess environmental conditions, VEGAS applies established measurement techniques, modifies them to the particular requirements of the contaminated site and develops new measuring methods and systems. Emphasis is put on on-site measurements, which allow a fast screening and dynamic investigation of the whole area.

A high-quality investigation is the pre-requisite for all remediation measures. It includes:

  • Hydraulic / hydrogeological characterization of the subsurface with tracer and flow measurement in aquifers and wells.
  • Representative samples from soil, groundwater and soil gas using proven technical sampling systems.
  • Fast and cost-effective assessment of contaminant distribution (location of source, spreading of plume) as well as the identification of contaminants in the subsurface with on-site measurement techniques.

The on-site measurement and monitoring systems developed at VEGAS are employed in the field in cooperation with consulting firms. The systems are applied for quality control as well as for long-term monitoring following a remediation or to accompany MNA measures.

Our goal is to meet the specifications efficiently and cost-effectively. We offer customized solutions for specific problems.

The reduction of high land consumption is one of the most important challenges in environmental protection. As such, land management must focus on the re-development of previously used and / or potentially contaminated land and an efficient and sustainable land use. VEGAS has been working in this research area for many years.

An exchange of ideas and experience with national and international experts has been initiated. This has led to the development of new concepts and strategies, which in turn improve land management and the implementation of brownfield redevelopment projects.

A successful example is the “start-up plan for brownfields”, which increases the marketing potential of brownfields and supports the initial stages of brownfield redevelopment.

The procedures that environmental and local authorities apply in brownfield redevelopment are systematically examined. Guidelines for land management are researched, evaluated and integrated into databases. These improve the transfer of knowledge on brownfield redevelopment and land management.

For many years, VEGAS has organized a variety of advanced training courses and has been actively engaged in conveying knowledge and expertise into everyday practice. Examples are the annual training seminars on groundwater and soil sampling(German).

Affiliated to the research facility is the office of the Fortbildungsverbundes boden und altlasten Baden-Wuerttemberg. In collaboration with consulting firms and environmental authorities, approximately ten one-day events are offered annually on preventive soil protection, soil clean-up, brownfield redevelopment, environmental legislation etc (in German).

VEGAS is also home to the office of the altlastenforum Baden-Württemberg e. V., an association of consultants, public authorities and local councils.

VEGAS also holds symposia relating to current research topics. New scientific subjects and expertise are presented to and discussed with consultants and regulatory agencies.

A transfer of knowledge and technology worldwide is guaranteed by the close involvement in the teaching activities of the University, in particular its international study programs.


The Scientific Director is primarily responsible for the coordination and the scientific supervision and consultation of the VEGAS research activities, national and international cooperation with research facilities, universities and industry, and the organization of scientific meetings and conferences.

The Technical Director is responsible for the VEGAS facility itself, including all workshops. This includes compliance of legal aspects and restraints, as well as the introduction of all users to the operation rules of VEGAS. He advises users in regards to technical details, and coordinates the work of the workshops.

The Head of the Analytical Laboratory is responsible for maintenance, equipment and materials procurement as well as ongoing operation of the laboratory. He advises users in the field of chemistry and instructs personnel.

The VEGAS Plant Engineer is responsible for maintenance and operation of the operation of the facility in general, for the waste water treatment plant and compliance with laboratory safety. He may also work for research partners from outside the Universität Stuttgart for adequate compensation.

The VEGAS Secretary supports the VEGAS Management in various organizational tasks.

The Chemical-Technical Assistant to the Analytical Laboratory analyses soil, gas and liquid samples and develops, if necessary, new methodologies. He performs chemical analyses for research partners from outside upon request.

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