Journal article

Modeling the effectiveness of U(VI) biomineralization in dual porosity porous media

Recent attention has focused on the in situ immobilization of uranium by stimulation of dissimilatory metal-reducing bacteria (DMRB). The objective of this work was to investigate the effectiveness of this approach in heterogeneous and structured porous media, since such media may significantly affect the geochemical and microbial processes taking place in contaminated sites, impacting remediation efficiency during biostimulation. A biogeochemical reactive transport model was developed for uranium remediation by immobile-region-resident DMRB in two-region porous media. Simulations were used to investigate the parameter sensitivities of the system over wide ranging geochemical, microbial and groundwater transport conditions. The results suggest that optimal biomineralization is generally likely to occur when the regional mass transfer timescale is less than one thirtieth the value of the volumetric flux timescale, and/or the organic carbon fermentation timescale is less than one thirtieth the value of the advective timescale, and/or the mobile region porosity ranges between equal to and four times the immobile region porosity. Simulations including U(VI) surface complexation to Fe oxides additionally suggest that, while systems exhibiting U(VI) surface complexation may be successfully remediated, they are likely to display different degrees of remediation efficiency over varying microbial efficiency, mobile-immobile mass transfer, and porosity ratios. Such information may aid experimental and field designs, allowing for optimized remediation in dual-porosity (two-region) biostimulated DMRB U(VI) remediation schemes.


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