Infoscience

Journal article

Field trial of a new aeration system for enhancing biodegradation in a biopile

The influence of a new aeration system on the biopile performance was investigated. The purpose was to increase biodegradation efficiency by optimising airflow through the pile. During a 1-month field trial, the performance of a new system using two perforated vertical pipes with wind-driven turbines was compared with that of a standard pile configuration with two horizontal perforated pipes. Both piles were composed of a similar mix of diesel- contaminated soils, woodchips, compost and NPK fertiliser. Hydrocarbons were recovered using solvent extraction, and determined both gravimetrically and by gas chromatography. Total heterotrophs, pH and moisture content were also assessed. Air pressure measurements were made to compare the efficiency of suction in the pipes. Results at the end of the experiment showed that there was no significant difference between the two piles in the total amount of hydrocarbon biodegradation. The normalised degradation rate was, however, considerably higher in the new system than in the standard one, suggesting that the vertical venting method may have improved the efficiency of the biological reactions in the pile. The pressure measurements showed a significant improvement in the suction produced by the new aeration system. However, many factors other than the airflow (oxygen supply) may influence and limit the biodegradation rates, including moisture content, age of contaminants and the climatic conditions. Additional experiments and modelling need to be carried out to explore further the new aeration method and to develop criteria and guidelines for engineering design of optimal aeration schemes in order to achieve maximum biodegradation in biopiles.

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