The reactive transport of trichloroethene is influenced by residence time and microbial numbers

Journal of Contaminant Hydrology
P J HaestE Smolders


The dechlorination rate in a flow-through porous matrix can be described by the species specific dechlorination rate observed in a liquid batch unless mass transport limitations prevail. This hypothesis was examined by comparing dechlorination rates in liquid batch with that in column experiments at various flow rates (3-9-12 cm day(-1)). Columns were loaded with an inoculated sand and eluted with a medium containing 1mM trichloroethene (TCE) for 247 days. Dechlorination in the column treatments increased with decreasing flow rate, illustrating the effect of the longer residence time. Zeroth order TCE or cis-DCE degradation rates were 4-7 folds larger in columns than in corresponding batch systems which could be explained by the higher measured Geobacter and Dehalococcoides numbers per unit pore volume in the columns. The microbial numbers also explained the variability in dechlorination rate among flow rate treatments marked by a large elution of the dechlorinating species' yield as flow increased. Stop flow events did not reveal mass transport limitations for dechlorination. We conclude that flow rate effects on reactive transport of TCE in this coarse sand are explained by residence time and by microbial transport and that m...Continue Reading


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