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Sci Total Environ. 2018 Jan 15;612:903-913. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2017.08.227. Epub 2017 Sep 5.

Enhanced bioremediation of nutrient-amended, petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated soils over a cold-climate winter: The rate and extent of hydrocarbon biodegradation and microbial response in a pilot-scale biopile subjected to natural seasonal freeze-thaw temperatures.

Author information

1
Department of Civil, Geological, and Environmental Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada.
2
Department of Civil, Geological, and Environmental Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. Electronic address: wonjae.chang@usask.ca.

Abstract

A pilot-scale biopile field experiment for nutrient-amended petroleum-contaminated fine-grained soils was performed over the winter at a cold-climate site. The rate and extent of hydrocarbon biodegradation and microbial responses were determined and corresponded to the on-site soil phase changes (from unfrozen to partially frozen, deeply frozen, and thawed) associated with natural seasonal freeze-thaw conditions. Treated and untreated biopiles were constructed (~3500kg each) on an open outdoor surface at a remediation facility in Saskatoon, Canada. The treated biopile received N-P-K-based nutrient and humate amendments before seasonal freezing. Real-time field monitoring indicated significant unfrozen water content in the treated and untreated biopiles throughout the freezing period, from the middle of November to early March. Unfrozen water was slightly more available in the treated biopile due to the aqueous nutrient supply. Soil CO2 production and O2 consumption in the treated biopile were generally greater than in the untreated biopile. Total removal percentages for F2 (>C10-C16), F3 (>C16-C34), and total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) in the treated biopile were 57, 58, and 58%, respectively, of which 26, 39, and 33% were removed during seasonal freezing and early thawing between November to early March. F3 degradation largely occurred during freezing while F2 hydrocarbons were primarily removed during thawing. Biomarker-based hydrocarbon analyses confirmed enhanced biodegradation in the treated biopile during freezing. The soil treatment increased the first-order rate constants for F2, F3, and TPH degradation by a factor of 2 to 7 compared to the untreated biopile. Shifts in bacterial community appeared in both biopiles as the biopile soils seasonally froze and thawed. Increased alkB1 gene copy numbers in the treated biopile, especially in the partially thawed phase during early thawing, suggest extended hydrocarbon biodegradation to the seasonal freeze-thaw season, due to the nutrients supplied prior to seasonal freezing.

KEYWORDS:

Bioremediation; Cold climate; Contaminated soils; Petroleum hydrocarbons; Seasonal freeze-thaw; Unfrozen water content

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