Laboratory column studies for evaluating a barrier system for providing oxygen and substrate for TCE biodegradation

C. M. Kao, S. C. Chen, M. C. Su

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


The industrial solvent trichloroethylene (TCE) is among the most ubiquitous chlorinated compounds found in groundwater contamination. The objective of this study was to develop a biobarrier system containing oxygen-organic releasing material to enhance the aerobic cometabolism of TCE in situ. The oxygen-organic material, which contains calcium peroxide and peat, is able to release oxygen and primary substrates continuously upon contact with water. Batch experiments were conducted to design and identify the components of the oxygen-organic releasing material, and evaluate the oxygen and organic substrate (presented as COD equivalent) release from the designed oxygen-organic material. The observed oxygen and chemical oxygen demand (COD) release rates were approximately 0.0246 and 0.052 mg/d/g of material, respectively. A laboratory-scale column experiment was then conducted to evaluate the feasibility of this proposed system for the bioremediation of TCE-contaminated groundwater. This system was performed using a series of continuous-flow glass columns including a soil column, an oxygen-organic material column, followed by two consecutive soil columns. Aerobic acclimated sludges were inoculated in all three soil columns to provide microbial consortia for TCE biodegradation. Simulated TCE-contaminated groundwater with a flow rate of 0.25 1/day was pumped into this system. Effluent samples from each column were analyzed for TCE and other indicating parameters (e.g., pH, dissolved oxygen). Results show that the decreases in TCE concentrations were observed over a 4-month operating period. Up to 99% of TCE removal efficiency was obtained in this passive system. Results indicate that the continuously released oxygen and organic substrates from the oxygen-organic materials enhanced TCE biotransformation. Thus, the biobarrier treatment scheme has the potential to be developed into an environmentally and economically acceptable remediation technology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)925-934
Number of pages10
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2001


  • Biobarrier
  • Cometabolism
  • Groundwater remediation
  • Trichloroethylene


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