Enhanced PCE dechlorination by biobarrier systems under different redox conditions

C. M. Kao, Y. L. Chen, S. C. Chen, T. Y. Yeh, W. S. Wu

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38 Scopus citations


The industrial solvent tetrachloroethylene (PCE) is among the most ubiquitous chlorinated compounds found in groundwater contamination. The objective of this study was to evaluate the (1) feasibility of enhancing PCE biodegradation using cane molasses and sludge cakes as the primary substrates under methanogenic and iron reducing conditions, and (2) potential of installation a sludge cake/cane molasses biobarrier to clean up PCE-contaminated aquifers. The biodegradability of sludge cake (from secondary wastewater treatment system) and cane molasses was tested using bioavailability experiments. Results show that biodegradable materials were released from sludge cake/cane molasses and utilized by microbial consortia. Based on the chemical oxygen demand (COD) tests, approximately 28 and 248mg of biodegradable COD can be released from 1g of sludge cake and 1g of cane molasses under anaerobic conditions, which have the potential to convert 70 and 620mg of PCE to ethylene (ETH), respectively. Reductive dechlorination was evaluated using microcosms containing primary substrates (sludge cake/cane molasses) and inocula (aquifer sediments). Results indicate that sludge cake and cane molasses can serve as the diffusion sources of primary substrates, and enhance the reductive dechlorination of PCE under methanogenic processes. However, results from this study were not sufficient enough to show that reductive dechlorination of PCE would occur under iron-reducing conditions. This indicates that more studies need to be performed to further evaluate the role of iron reduction on the PCE dechlorination. Results reveal that it is feasible and applicable to install a sludge cake or cane molasses biobarrier to clean up PCE contaminated aquifers. From an engineering point of view, the sludge cake/cane molasses biobarrier has the potential to become an environmentally and economically acceptable technology for PCE bioremediation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4885-4894
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Issue number20
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Biobarrier
  • Groundwater remediation
  • Iron reduction
  • Reductive dechlorination
  • Tetrachloroethylene


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