The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Aerobic biodegradation of petroleum-contaminated soil: Simulations from soil microcosms

TitleAerobic biodegradation of petroleum-contaminated soil: Simulations from soil microcosms
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1996
AuthorsOstendorf DW, Long SC, Schoenberg TH, Pollock SJ
JournalTransportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board
Start Page121

The capacity of natural bacteria to aerobically degrade hydrocarbon vapors was measured and modeled to assess the potential of bioventing to reduce exhaust vapor treatment requirements at a petroleum spill site. Five sets of aerobic soil microcosms from the vadose zone of a Massachusetts Highway Department contaminated right-of-way were dosed with different initial petroleum vapor standard concentrations, then monitored by gas chromatographic analysis over a 55-day period. The five sets yielded an average maximum reaction rate of 20 μg/m3 (soil gas)-sec, which compared favorably with studies of light hydrocarbon vapor degradation in sandy soils from other sites. The calibrated rate was incorporated into a steady-state bioventing model that simulated the evaporation of 34 000 L of petroleum over a 170-year natural release period and an 8-year accelerated release period for 10-day residence time. Aerobic degradation for a 10-day residence time reduced exhaust vapor concentrations by over 100 percent for natural release rates, with a 13 percent reduction under accelerated conditions.