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Member Spotlight: 

Ken Hannon, P.E.

Engineering Program Manager
Brightfields, Inc.
President, MDSPE-Baltimore Chapter

Posted August 2, 2018


For Ken Hannon, chemistry always provided a fascinating way to look at the world. Today, Hannon uses advances in chemistry to remediate complex contamination on the former sites of “sloppy” companies.

A graduate of Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Hannon earned a degree in chemical engineering but licensed as a mechanical engineer.

At the time, “I was working for Potomac Electric Power Company as a power plant performance engineer, so I was doing a lot of mechanical engineering,” he said. 

The position was with Pepco’s environmental engineering section. Tasked with improving stormwater management measures and finding ways to make power plants cleaner, Hannon furthered his professional passion for environmental engineering.

Currently an engineering program manager with BrightFields, Inc. and president of MDPSE’s Baltimore Chapter, Hannon leads meticulous and long-term efforts to remediate complex pollution on industrial sites. On one Delaware site, Hannon is several years into an effort to clean a mix of chemicals spilled by two small, specialty companies that packaged a variety of chemicals in the 1980s and ‘90s. 

“This site has a mix of chemicals like I have never seen on any other site in 25 years,” Hannon said. “It has chlorinated chemicals which are really tough to clean up… The companies were really sloppy. There is soil contamination down to about 25 feet and a a groundwater contaminated plume onsite.”

Consequently, BrightFields is using two processes to neutralize the contaminants: in-situ chemical oxidation that breaks chemicals down into carbon dioxide, water and other inert materials; and in-situ chemical reduction which breaks down fully oxidized chemicals, such as carbon tetrachloride, into inert chemical compounds.

“Over the years, we have learned to make more complex compounds. Unfortunately, that means we have more complex contamination problems,” Hannon said. “But chemical oxidation and reduction technologies have been developing and becoming much more effective.”

Recently, BrightFields participated in research by a UMBC professor into SediMite – a new method of extracting contaminants from bodies of water.

“Activated carbon has been used forever to sequester organics out of water,” he said. “But it can be very difficult and cost prohibitive to dig up a stream bed that is contaminated. So this professor developed SediMite which is a pelletized carbon that you can put in a stream bed so it falls in with the sediment where it sequesters material. Studies have shown the concentration of PCBs in the water column drops significantly the first year and, as long as the bed isn’t disturbed, it is pretty much a permanent solution.”




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