Published in Proceedings of the Seventh International In Situ and On-Site Bioremediation Symposium, June 1, 2003.
Laboratory respirometry experiments were conducted on mixtures of soil and oily sludge to estimate biodegradation rates by CO2 production rates and determine optimum conditions for biodegradation of high-strength hydrocarbon waste products. These experiments were used to determine a suitable range of total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) concentration for biological treatment and to optimize for nutrient addition and moisture content. CO2 production rates from biological respiration of hydrocarbon-contaminated soil were maximized at concentrations of 3-9% TPH (30,00090,000 mg/kg TPH). CO2 production rates decreased dramatically at concentrations above 9% TPH, indicating that either these concentrations are lethal to microbes present, or this high sludge content inhibits aeration of the soils. Addition of 120 mg/kg nitrogen, 40 mg/kg phosphorous, and 40 mg/kg potassium to the soils resulted in a three fold increase in CO2 production rates. No significant increase in CO2 production was observed when the nutrient addition was increased to 240 mg/kg nitrogen, 80 mg/kg phosphorous, and 80 mg/kg potassium. Maximum CO2 production rates were observed at 15-20% moisture content. CO2 production rates decreased significantly at and below 10% moisture and at and above 25% moisture. Maximum CO2 production rates observed for soil with 50,000 mg/kg TPH, with added nutrients at optimum moisture content, were 30-35 μL CO2/g/hr. Assuming all CO2 was generated from hydrocarbon degradation, this maximum CO2 production rate corresponds to a hydrocarbon biodegradation rate of approximately 500 mg TPH/kg/day (assuming 100% respiration for a conservative estimate). If ideal conditions are maintained and rates of respiration remain high, clay soil contaminated with 60,000 mg/kg TPH sludge could probably be remediated in 2 months.
Civil and Environmental Engineering
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