Insights and Modelling Tools for Designing and Improving Chlorinated Solvent Bioremediation Applications

The chlorinated solvents tetrachloroethene (PCE) and trichloroethene (TCE) have been used extensively in industry and are now amongst the most common and hazardous groundwater contaminants. These solvents are typically present as dense, non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs) and represent long-term source zones that produce persistent contamination plumes in aquifers. Under anaerobic conditions, chlorinated ethenes may be biodegraded via reductive dechlorination (the biologically mediated, step-wise removal of chlorine) to form ethene, a relatively innocuous end-product. The rate of reductive dechlorination can be enhanced by stimulating the activity of dechlorinating bacteria by injection of an electron donor (typically an organic substrate that generates hydrogen upon fermentation), nutrients and, in some cases, microbial communities known to dechlorinate effectively to ethene (i.e., bioaugmentation). Reductive dechlorination has been shown to be a viable technology for in situ treatment of dissolved chlorinated solvent plumes, and recent laboratory studies have suggested that this strategy may also be effective for chlorinated solvent DNAPL. Here, the source zone is targeted directly, with the aim of reducing its lifespan by enhancing dissolution from the DNAPL and sorbed phases and coupling this with effective and sustained dechlorination near the DNAPL-water interface and within the plume. This bulletin focuses on modelling of enhanced dechlorination processes in groundwater, including the modelling tools developed in the SABRE project (under which this report was written,;=view&id;=53&Itemid;=47&showall;=1), insights gained from the models concerning factors controlling the rates and extent of enhanced source zone DNAPL bioremediation, and how the modelling tools can be used to assist future applications of this technology.

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