Controlled releases of unleaded gasoline were utilized to evaluate the biotransformation of the soluble aromatic hydrocarbons (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene isomers, trimethylbenzene isomers, and naphthalene) within a source zone using nitrate and oxygen as electron acceptors. Experiments were conducted within two 2 m ?? 2 m ?? 3.5 m deep sheet-piling cells. In each treatment cell, a gasoline-contaminated zone was created below the water table. Groundwater amended with electron acceptors was then flushed continuously through the cells for 174 day. Electron-acceptor utilization and hydrocarbon-metabolite formation were noted in both cells, indicating that some microbial activity had been induced in response to flushing. Relative to the cell residence time, nitrate utilization was slow and aromatic-hydrocarbon mass losses in response to microaerophilic dissolved oxygen addition were not obvious under these in situ conditions. There was relatively little biotransformation of the aromatic hydrocarbons over the 2-m flow path monitored in this experiment. A large denitrifying population capable of aromatic hydrocarbon biotransformation failed to develop within the gasoline source zone over a 14-mo period of nitrate exposure.
Additional publication details
Controlled field study on the use of nitrate and oxygen for bioremediation of a gasoline source zone