Faculté des sciences

Bioremediation of a diesel fuel contaminated aquifer : simulation studies in laboratory aquifer columns

Hess, A ; Höhener, P ; Hunkeler, Daniel ; Zeyer, J

In: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology, 1996, vol. 23, p. 329-345

The in situ bioremediation of aquifers contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons is commonly based on the infiltration of groundwater supplemented with oxidants (e.g., O2, NO ‾3) and nutrients (e.g., NH+4, PO34‾). These additions stimulate the microbial activity in the aquifer and several field studies describing the... Plus

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    Summary
    The in situ bioremediation of aquifers contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons is commonly based on the infiltration of groundwater supplemented with oxidants (e.g., O2, NO ‾3) and nutrients (e.g., NH+4, PO34‾). These additions stimulate the microbial activity in the aquifer and several field studies describing the resulting processes have been published. However, due to the heterogeneity of the subsurface and due to the limited number of observation wells usually available, these field data do not offer a sufficient spatial and temporal resolution. In this study, flow-through columns of 47-cm length equipped with 17 sampling ports were filled with homogeneously contaminated aquifer material from a diesel fuel contaminated in situ bioremediation site. The columns were operated over 96 days at 12°C with artificial groundwater supplemented with O2, NO ‾3 and PO34 ‾. Concentration profiles of O2, NO ‾3, NO ‾2, dissolved inorganic and organic carbon (DIG and DOC, respectively), protein, microbial cells and total residual hydrocarbons were measured. Within the first 12 cm, corresponding to a mean groundwater residence time of < 3.6 h, a steep O2, decrease from 4.6 to < 0.3 mg 1-1, denitrification, a production of DIC and DOC, high microbial cell numbers and a high removal of hydrocarbons were observed. Within a distance of 24 to 40.5 cm from the infiltration, O2, was below 0.1 mg 1-1and a denitrifying activity was found. In the presence and in the absence of O2, n-alkanes were preferentially degraded compared to branched alkanes. The results demonstrate that: (1) infiltration of aerobic groundwater into columns filled with aquifer material contaminated with hydrocarbons leads to a rapid depletion of O2; (2) O2 and NO ‾3 can serve as oxidants for the mineralization of hydrocarbons; and (3) the modelling of redox processes in aquifers has to consider denitrifying activity in presence of O2.