Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation

Demonstration of a permeable barrier technology for the in-situ bioremediation of pentachlorophenol contaminated groundwater

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  • A pilot scale demonstration of a biological permeable barrier was conducted in a pentachlorophenol-contaminated aquifer at a wood preserving facility. A permeable reactor was constructed to fit within a large diameter well. Arranged in series, a cylindrical reactor 24" x 36" (0.61 x 0.91m) (diameter x height) was partitioned to provide three biological treatment zones. Pentachlorophenol (PCP) biodegradation was evaluated under several environmental conditions using a mixed microbial consortium supported on ceramic saddles. Imitation vanilla flavoring (IVF), a mixture of propylene glycol, guaiacol, ethyl vanillin and sodium benzoate, served as the electron donor. In the absence of exogenous substrate, PCP was not degraded in the inoculated permeable barrier. Substrate addition under oxidizing conditions also failed to initiate PCP removal. Anaerobic conditions however, promoted in-situ PCP degradation. PCP reductive dechlorination resulted in the transient production of 3,4,5-trichlorophenol through sequential ortho dechlorinations. Continued carbon reduction at the meta and para positions resulted in 3,4-dichlorophenol and 3,5-dichlorophenol production. Complete removal of all intermediate degradation products was observed. Reactor operation was characterized through two independent laboratory and field companion studies. Experiments were conducted to evaluate (1) the effect of supplemental electron donor concentration (IVF) and (2) the effect of sulfate, a competitive electron acceptor on PCP reductive dechlorination. Results from laboratory and field conditions were consistent. (1) In the presence of an exogenous electron donor, PCP degradation was independent of supplemental donor concentration (10, 25, 50, 100 mg COD/L). However, a comparatively slower rate of PCP degradation was observed in the absence of electron donor. (2) The presence of sulfate was not inhibitory to PCP degradation. However, compared to systems evaluated in the absence of sulfate, slower rates of PCP transformation were observed. Passive operation and low energy requirements, coupled with potential contaminant mineralization suggest that the biological permeable barrier is a highly effective tool for subsurface restoration.
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