Bioremediation of chlorobenzene-contaminated ground water in an in situ reactor mediated by hydrogen peroxide.
ABSTRACT New in situ reactive barrier technologies were tested nearby a local aquifer in Bitterfeld, Saxonia-Anhalt, Germany, which is polluted mainly by chlorobenzene (CB), in concentrations up to 450 microM. A reactor filled with original aquifer sediment was designed for the microbiological remediation of the ground water by indigenous bacterial communities. Two remediation variants were examined: (a) the degradation of CB under anoxic conditions in the presence of nitrate; (b) the degradation of CB under mixed electron acceptor conditions (oxygen+nitrate) using hydrogen peroxide as the oxygen-releasing compound. Under anoxic conditions, no definite degradation of CB was observed. Adding hydrogen peroxide (2.94 mM) and nitrate (2 mM) led to the disappearance of CB (ca. 150 microM) in the lower part of the reactor, accompanied by a strong increase of the number of cultivable aerobic CB degrading bacteria in reactor water and sediment samples, indicating that CB was degraded mainly by productive bacterial metabolism. Several aerobic CB degrading bacteria, mostly belonging to the genera Pseudomonas and Rhodococcus, were isolated from reactor water and sediments. In laboratory experiments with reactor water, oxygen was rapidly released by hydrogen peroxide, whereas biotic-induced decomposition reactions of hydrogen peroxide were almost four times faster than abiotic-induced decomposition reactions. A clear chemical degradation of CB mediated by hydrogen peroxide was not observed. CB was also completely degraded in the reactor after reducing the hydrogen peroxide concentration to 880 microM. The CB degradation completely collapsed after reducing the hydrogen peroxide concentration to 440 microM. In the following, the hydrogen peroxide concentrations were increased again (to 880 microM, 2.94 mM, and 880 microM, respectively), but the oxygen demand for CB degradation was higher than observed before, indicating a shift in the bacterial population. During the whole experiment, nitrate was uniformly reduced during the flow path in the reactor.