Subsurface biofilm barriers for the containment and remediation of contaminated groundwater


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.
Copyright (c) 2002-2022, LYRASIS. All rights reserved.