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In situ stimulation of groundwater denitrification with formate to remediate nitrate contamination

Environmental Science and Technology

By:
, , , ,
DOI: 10.1021/es001360p

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Abstract

In situ stimulation of denitrification has been proposed as a mechanism to remediate groundwater nitrate contamination. In this study, sodium formate was added to a sand and gravel aquifer on Cape Cod, MA, to test whether formate could serve as a potential electron donor for subsurface denitrification. During 16- and 10-day trials, groundwater from an anoxic nitrate-containing zone (0.5-1.5 mM) was continuously withdrawn, amended with formate and bromide, and pumped back into the aquifer. Concentrations of groundwater constituents were monitored in multilevel samplers after up to 15 m of transport by natural gradient flow. Nitrate and formate concentrations were decreased 80-100% and 60-70%, respectively, with time and subsequent travel distance, while nitrite concentrations inversely increased. The field experiment breakthrough curves were simulated with a two-dimensional site-specific model that included transport, denitrification, and microbial growth. Initial values for model parameters were obtained from laboratory incubations with aquifer core material and then refined to fit field breakthrough curves. The model and the lab results indicated that formate-enhanced nitrite reduction was nearly 4-fold slower than nitrate reduction, but in the lab, nitrite was completely consumed with sufficient exposure time. Results of this study suggest that a long-term injection of formate is necessary to test the remediation potential of this approach for nitrate contamination and that adaptation to nitrite accumulation will be a key determinative factor.In situ stimulation of denitrification has been proposed as a mechanism to remediate groundwater nitrate contamination. In this study, sodium formate was added to a sand and gravel aquifer on Cape Cod, MA, to test whether formate could serve as a potential electron donor for subsurface denitrification. During 16- and 10-day trials, groundwater from an anoxic nitrate-containing zone (0.5-1.5 mM) was continuously withdrawn, amended with formate and bromide, and pumped back into the aquifer. Concentrations of groundwater constituents were monitored in multilevel samplers after up to 15 m of transport by natural gradient flow. Nitrate and formate concentrations were decreased 80-100% and 60-70%, respectively, with time and subsequent travel distance, while nitrite concentrations inversely increased. The field experiment breakthrough curves were simulated with a two-dimensional site-specific model that included transport, denitrification, and microbial growth. Initial values for model parameters were obtained from laboratory incubations with aquifer core material and then refined to fit field breakthrough curves. The model and the lab results indicated that formate-enhanced nitrite reduction was nearly 4-fold slower than nitrate reduction, but in the lab, nitrite was completely consumed with sufficient exposure time. Results of this study suggest that a long-term injection of formate is necessary to test the remediation potential of this approach for nitrate contamination and that adaptation to nitrite accumulation will be a key determinative factor.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
In situ stimulation of groundwater denitrification with formate to remediate nitrate contamination
Series title:
Environmental Science and Technology
DOI:
10.1021/es001360p
Volume
35
Issue:
1
Year Published:
2001
Language:
English
Publisher:
ACS
Publisher location:
Washington, DC, United States
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
196
Last page:
203
Number of Pages:
8