Combined chemical and microbiological degradation of tetrachloroethene during the application of Carbo-Iron at a contaminated field site

Maria Vogel, Ivonne Nijenhuis, Jonathan Lloyd, Christopher Boothman, Marlén Pöritz, Katrin Mackenzie

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    After the injection of Carbo-Iron® into an aquifer contaminated with tetrachloroethene (PCE), combined chemical and microbiological contaminant degradation processes were found in a long-term study of the field site in Lower Saxony (Germany). The applied composite material Carbo-Iron, which consists of colloidal activated carbon and embedded nanoscale zero-valent iron (ZVI) structures, functioned as intended: accumulating the pollutants and promoting their reductive dechlorination. Furthermore, the particles decreased the redox potential of the groundwater due to their reaction with oxygen and to the ZVI-corrosion-induced formation of molecular hydrogen up to 190 days after the injection, the latter promoting sulphate-reducing conditions. The emergence of cis-dichloroethene (cis-DCE), which was only found in trace quantities before the injection of Carbo-Iron, together with the presence of organisms related to Sulfospirillum multivorans, Desulfitobacterium spp. and Dehalococcoides mccartyi, indicate that Carbo-Iron is also able to support microbial degradation of PCE. However, cis-DCE did not accumulate in the present case study, although it is often observed at sites with active microbial dechlorination. The results of compound-specific isotope analysis in combination with pyrosequencing data suggested the oxidative degradation of cis-DCE by an organism related to Polaromonas sp. strain JS666. Consequently, the formation of the carcinogenic degradation intermediate vinyl chloride was circumvented. Overall, the moderate and slow change of environmental conditions mediated by Carbo-Iron not only supported organohalide-respiring bacteria, but also created the basis for a subsequent microbial oxidation step.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)161-169
    Number of pages9
    JournalScience of the Total Environment
    Early online date20 Feb 2018
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


    • Carbo-Iron
    • Field test
    • Nanoiron
    • Organohalide respiration
    • PCE dechlorination
    • Polaromonas JS666


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