Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Journals
DOI 10.1016/j.jconhyd.2020.103759
Document accepted manuscript
Title (Primary) Benzene degradation in contaminated aquifers: Enhancing natural attenuation by injecting nitrate
Author Müller, C.; Knöller, K.; Lucas, R.; Kleinsteuber, S. ORCID logo ; Trabitzsch, R.; Weiß, H.; Stollberg, R.; Richnow, H.H.; Vogt, C.
Source Titel Journal of Contaminant Hydrology
Year 2021
Volume 238
Page From art. 103759
Language englisch
Topic T7 Bioeconomy
T5 Future Landscapes
Keywords Benzene; Compound specific stable isotope analysis; Nitrate; Sulphide oxidation; Enhanced natural attenuation - bioremediation
Abstract Natural attenuation processes depend on the availability of suitable electron acceptors. At the megasite Zeitz, concentrations of the main contaminant benzene were observed to increase constantly in the lower aquifer to levels of more than 2.5 mM. This was accompanied by decreasing concentrations of sulphate (SO42−), which has been previously shown to be the main electron acceptor for benzene oxidation at this site, resulting in an electron acceptor-limited, sulphidic benzene plume. Therefore, a field experiment was conducted to stimulate benzene biodegradation by injecting nitrate (NO3) into the sulphidic benzene plume aiming (i) to recycle sulphate by nitrate-dependent sulphide oxidation, and (ii) to serve as direct electron acceptor for benzene oxidation. Within 60 days, 6.74 tons sodium nitrate (NaNO3) were injected into the lower aquifer, and the resulting biogeochemical effects within the benzene plume were monitored for more than one year by chemical and microbiological analyses of groundwater samples taken from various depths of ten monitoring wells located in three observation lines downstream of nitrate injection. Nitrate was microbiologically consumed, as shown by changes in δ15N-NO3 and δ18O-NO3 values, partial nitrite accumulation, and changing ratios of Na+/NO3. Main electron donors for nitrate reduction were reduced sulphur compounds, verified by changing δ34S-SO42− and δ18O-SO42− values, partially increasing sulphate concentrations, and strongly increasing abundances of typical sulphur-oxidizing, nitrate-reducing bacterial taxa within the nitrate plume. The general absent hydrogen isotope fractionation of benzene, also in the sulphidic, nitrate-free part of the plume, indicates that benzene was not biodegraded by sulphate-reducing consortia. However, detected small carbon isotope fractionation of benzene points to in situ benzene biodegradation processes in the plume, probably supported by nitrate. In conclusion, nitrate injection resulted in changing redox conditions and recycling of sulphate in the sulphidic, sulphate-depleted benzene plume due to microbial oxidation of reduced sulphur species, leading to presumably favored conditions for in situ benzene biodegradation.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Müller, C., Knöller, K., Lucas, R., Kleinsteuber, S., Trabitzsch, R., Weiß, H., Stollberg, R., Richnow, H.H., Vogt, C. (2021):
Benzene degradation in contaminated aquifers: Enhancing natural attenuation by injecting nitrate
J. Contam. Hydrol. 238 , art. 103759