Trichloroethylene fate and transport studies and biodegradation kinetics in the saturated zone

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Ozturk, Zuhal
thesis / dissertation description
Permeable reactive barriers (PRB) are constructed from soil solid amendments to support the growth of bacteria that are capable of degrading organic contaminants. The objective of this study was to identify low-cost soil solid amendments that could retard the movement of trichloroethylene (TCE) while serving as long-lived carbon sources to foster its biodegradation in shallow groundwater through the use of a PRB. ^ The natural amendments high in organic carbon content such as eucalyptus mulch, compost, wetland peat, organic humus were compared based on their geophysical characteristics, such as pHw, porosity and total organic carbon (TOC), and as well as TCE sorption potentials. The pHw values were within neutral range except for pine bark mulch and wetland peat. All other geophysical characteristics of the amendments showed suitability for use in a PRB. While the Freundlich model showed better fit for compost and pine bark mulch, the linear sorption model was adequate for eucalyptus mulch, wetland peat and Everglades muck within the concentration range studied (0.2-0.8 mg/L TCE). According to these results, two composts and eucalyptus mulch were selected for laboratory column experiments to evaluate their effectiveness at creating and maintaining conditions suitable for TCE anaerobic dechlorination. The columns were monitored for pH, ORP, TCE degradation, longevity of nutrients and soluble TOC to support TCE dechlorination. Native bacteria in the columns had the ability to convert TCE to DCEs; however, the inoculation with the TCE-degrading culture greatly increased the rate of biodegradation. This caused a significant increase in by-product concentration, mostly in the form of DCEs and VC followed by a slow degradation to ethylene. Of the tested amendments eucalyptus mulch was the most effective at supporting the TCE dechlorination. ^ The experimental results of TCE sequential dechlorination took place in eucalyptus mulch and commercial compost from Savannah River Site columns were then simulated using the Hydrus-1D model. The simulations showed good fit with the experimental data. The results suggested that sorption and degradation were the dominant fate and transport mechanisms for TCE and DCEs in the column, supporting the use of these amendments in a permeable reactive barrier to remediate the TCE. ^