Subsurface biofilm barriers for the containment and remediation of contaminated groundwater
Cunningham, Alfred B.
Sharp, Robert R.
James, Garth A.
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An engineered microbial biofilm barrier capable of reducing aquifer hydraulic conductivity while simultaneously biodegrading nitrate has been developed and tested at a field-relevant scale. The 22-month demonstration project was conducted at the MSE Technology Applications Inc. test facility in Butte, Montana, which consisted of a 130 ft wide, 180 ft long, 21 ft deep, polyvinylchloride (PVC)-lined test cell, with an initial hydraulic conductivity of 4.2 x 10-2 cm/s. A flow field was established across the test cell by injecting water up-gradient while simultaneously pumping from an effluent well located approximately 82 ft down gradient. A 30 ft wide biofilm barrier was developed along the centerline of the test cell by injecting a starved bacterial inoculum of Pseudomonas fluorescens strain CPC211a, followed by injection of a growth nutrient mixture composed of molasses, nitrate, and other additives. A 99% reduction of average hydraulic conductivity across the barrier was accomplished after three months of weekly or bi-weekly injections at intervals ranging from three to ten months. After the barrier was in place, a sustained concentration of 100 mg/l nitrate nitrogen, along with a 100 mg/l concentration of conservative (chloride) tracer, was added to the test cell influent over a six-month period. At the test cell effluent the concentration of chloride increased to about 80 mg/l while the effluent nitrate concentration varied between 0.0 and 6.4mg/l.
Cunningham AB, Sharp RR, Hiebert R, James G, "Subsurface biofilm barriers for the containment and remediation of contaminated groundwater," Bioremediation J, 2003, 7(3-4):1-13.