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Applying ozone to accelerate remediation of petroleum-contaminated soils

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Petroleum contamination is ubiquitous during extraction, transportation, refining, and storage. Contamination damages the soil’s ecosystem function, reduces its aesthetics, and poses a potential threat to human beings. The overall goals of this dissertation are to advance understanding of

Petroleum contamination is ubiquitous during extraction, transportation, refining, and storage. Contamination damages the soil’s ecosystem function, reduces its aesthetics, and poses a potential threat to human beings. The overall goals of this dissertation are to advance understanding of the mechanisms behind ozonation of petroleum-contaminated soil and to configure an effective integrated bioremediation + ozonation remedial strategy to remove the overall organic carbon. Using a soil column, I conducted batch ozonation experiments for different soils and at different moisture levels. I measured multiple parameters: e.g., total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) and dissolved organic carbon (DOC), to build a full understanding of the data that led to the solid conclusions. I first demonstrated the feasibility of using ozone to attack heavy petroleum hydrocarbons in soil settings. I identified the physical and chemical hurdles (e.g., moisture, mass transfer, pH) needed to be overcome to make the integration of chemical oxidation and biodegradation more efficient and defines the mechanisms behind the experimental observations. Next, I completed a total carbon balance, which revealed that multiple components, including soil organic matter (SOM) and non-TPH petroleum, competed for ozone, although TPH was relatively more reactive. Further experiments showed that poor soil mixing and high soil-moisture content hindered mass transfer of ozone to react with the TPH. Finally, I pursued the theme of optimizing the integration of ozonation and biodegradation through a multi-stage strategy. I conducted multi-stages of ozonation and bioremediation for two benchmark soils with distinctly different oils to test if and how much ozonation enhanced biodegradation and vice versa. With pH and moisture optimized for each step, pre-ozonation versus post-ozonation was assessed for TPH removal and mineralization. Multi-cycle treatment was able to achieve the TPH regulatory standard when biodegradation alone could not. Ozonation did not directly enhance the biodegradation rate of TPH; instead, ozone converted TPH into DOC that was biodegraded and mineralized. The major take-home lesson from my studies is that multi-stage ozonation + biodegradation is a useful remediation tool for petroleum contamination in soil.

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2018

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Trade-offs in utilizing of zero-valent iron for synergistic biotic and abiotic reduction of trichloroethene and perchlorate in soil and groundwater

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The advantages and challenges of combining zero-valent iron (ZVI) and microbial reduction of trichloroethene (TCE) and perchlorate (ClO4-) in contaminated soil and groundwater are not well understood. The objective of this work was to identify the benefits and limitations of

The advantages and challenges of combining zero-valent iron (ZVI) and microbial reduction of trichloroethene (TCE) and perchlorate (ClO4-) in contaminated soil and groundwater are not well understood. The objective of this work was to identify the benefits and limitations of simultaneous application of ZVI and bioaugmentation for detoxification of TCE and ClO4- using conditions relevant to a specific contaminated site. We studied conditions representing a ZVI-injection zone and a downstream zone influenced Fe (II) produced, for simultaneous ZVI and microbial reductive dechlorination applications using bench scale semi-batch microcosm experiments. 16.5 g L-1 ZVI effectively reduced TCE to ethene and ethane but ClO4- was barely reduced. Microbial reductive dechlorination was limited by both ZVI as well as Fe (II) derived from oxidation of ZVI. In the case of TCE, rapid abiotic TCE reduction made the TCE unavailable for the dechlorinating bacteria. In the case of perchlorate, ZVI inhibited the indigenous perchlorate-reducing bacteria present in the soil and groundwater. Further, H2 generated by ZVI reactions stimulated competing microbial processes like sulfate reduction and methanogenesis. In the microcosms representing the ZVI downstream zone (Fe (II) only), we detected accumulation of cis-dichloroethene (cis-DCE) and vinyl chloride (VC) after 56 days. Some ethene also formed under these conditions. In the absence of ZVI or Fe (II), we detected complete TCE dechlorination to ethene and faster rates of ClO4- reduction. The results illustrate potential limitations of combining ZVI with microbial reduction of chlorinated compounds and show the potential that each technology has when applied separately.

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2017

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Removal of hexavalent chromium from groundwater using stannous chloride reductive treatment

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Mineral weathering and industrial activities cause elevated concentration of hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) in groundwater, and this poses potential health concern (>10 ppb) to southwestern USA. The conversion of Cr(VI) to Cr(III) – a fairly soluble and non-toxic form at typical

Mineral weathering and industrial activities cause elevated concentration of hexavalent chromium (Cr(VI)) in groundwater, and this poses potential health concern (>10 ppb) to southwestern USA. The conversion of Cr(VI) to Cr(III) – a fairly soluble and non-toxic form at typical pH of groundwater is an effective method to control the mobility and carcinogenic effects of Cr(VI). In-situ chemical reduction using SnCl2 was investigated to initiate this redox process using jar testing with buffered ultrapure water and native Arizona groundwater spiked with varying Cr(VI) concentrations. Cr(VI) transformation by SnCl2 is super rapid (<60 seconds) and depends upon the molar dosage of Sn(II) to Cr(VI). Cr(VI) removal improved significantly at higher pH while was independent on Cr(VI) initial concentration and dissolved oxygen (DO) level. Co-existing oxyanions (As and W) competed with Cr(VI) for SnCl2 oxidation and adsorption sites of formed precipitates, thus resulted in lower Cr(VI) removal in the challenge water. SnCl2 reagent grade and commercial grade behaved similarly when freshly prepared, but the reducing strength of the commercial product decreased by 50% over a week after exposing to atmosphere. Equilibrium modeling with Visual MINTEQ suggested redox potential < 400 mV to reach Cr(VI) treatment goal of 10 ppb. Kinetics of Cr(VI) reduction was simulated via the rate expression: r=-k[H+]-0.25[Sn2+]0.5[Cr2O72-]3 with k = 0.146 uM-2.25s-1, which correlated consistently with experimental data under different pH and SnCl2 doses. These results proved SnCl2 reductive treatment is a simple and highly effective method to treat Cr(VI) in groundwater.

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2019

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Exploring microbial chain elongation for production of organics and hydrogen in soils

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This research explores microbial chain elongation as a pathway for production of complex organic compounds in soils with implication for the carbon cycle. In chain elongation, simple substrates such as ethanol and short chain carboxylates such as acetate can be

This research explores microbial chain elongation as a pathway for production of complex organic compounds in soils with implication for the carbon cycle. In chain elongation, simple substrates such as ethanol and short chain carboxylates such as acetate can be converted to longer carbon chain carboxylates under anaerobic conditions through cyclic, reverse β oxidation. This pathway elongates the carboxylate by two carbons. The chain elongation process is overall thermodynamically feasible, and microorganisms gain energy through this process. There have been limited insights into the versatility of chain elongating substrates, understanding the chain elongating microbial community, and its importance in sequestering carbon in the soils.

We used ethanol, methanol, butanol, and hydrogen as electron donors and acetate and propionate as electron acceptors to test the occurrence of microbial chain elongation in four soils with different physicochemical properties and microbial communities. Common chain elongation products were the even numbered chains butyrate, caproate, and butanol, the odd numbered carboxylates valerate and heptanoate, along with molecular hydrogen. At a near neutral pH and mesophilic temperature, we observed a stable and sustained production of longer fatty acids along with hydrogen. Microbial community analysis show phylotypes from families such as Clostridiaceae, Bacillaceae, and Ruminococcaceae in all tested conditions. Through chain elongation, the products formed are less biodegradable. They may undergo transformations and end up as organic carbon, decreasing the greenhouse gas emissions, thus, making this process important to study.

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2018

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Ammonium and potassium removal from real hydrolyzed urine using natural zeolites

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The goal of this research was to study the effect of dilution on ammonium and potassium removal from real hydrolyzed urine. The performance of two natural zeolites, clinoptilolite and chabazite, was studied and compared with the help of batch equilibrium

The goal of this research was to study the effect of dilution on ammonium and potassium removal from real hydrolyzed urine. The performance of two natural zeolites, clinoptilolite and chabazite, was studied and compared with the help of batch equilibrium experiments at four dilution levels: 100%, 10%, 1% and 0.1% (urine volume/total solution volume). Further, the sorption behavior of other exchangeable ions (sodium, calcium and magnesium) in clinoptilolite and chabazite was studied to improve the understanding of ion exchange stoichiometry. Ammonium and potassium removal were highest at undiluted level in samples treated with clinoptilolite. This is a key finding as it illustrates the benefit of urine source separation. Chabazite treated samples showed highest ammonium and potassium removal at undiluted level at lower doses. At higher doses, potassium removal was similar in undiluted and 10% urine solutions whereas ammonium removal was the highest in 10% urine solutions. In general, chabazite showed higher ammonium and potassium removal than clinoptilolite. The result showed that ion exchange was stoichiometric in solutions with higher urine volumes.

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2019

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Geochemical analysis of the leachate generated after zero valent metals addition to municipal solid waste

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Zero-Valent Metals (ZVM) are highly reactive materials and have been proved to be effective in contaminant reduction in soils and groundwater remediation. In fact, zero-Valent Iron (ZVI) has proven to be very effective in removing, particularly chlorinated organics, heavy metals,

Zero-Valent Metals (ZVM) are highly reactive materials and have been proved to be effective in contaminant reduction in soils and groundwater remediation. In fact, zero-Valent Iron (ZVI) has proven to be very effective in removing, particularly chlorinated organics, heavy metals, and odorous sulfides. Addition of ZVI has also been proved in enhancing the methane gas generation in anaerobic digestion of activated sludge. However, no studies have been conducted regarding the effect of ZVM stimulation to Municipal Solid Waste (MSW) degradation. Therefore, a collaborative study was developed to manipulate microbial activity in the landfill bioreactors to favor methane production by adding ZVMs. This study focuses on evaluating the effects of added ZVM on the leachate generated from replicated lab scale landfill bioreactors. The specific objective was to investigate the effects of ZVMs addition on the organic and inorganic pollutants in leachate. The hypothesis here evaluated was that adding ZVM including ZVI and Zero Valent Manganese (ZVMn) will enhance the removal rates of the organic pollutants present in the leachate, likely by a putative higher rate of microbial metabolism. Test with six (4.23 gallons) bioreactors assembled with MSW collected from the Salt River Landfill and Southwest Regional Landfill showed that under 5 grams /liter of ZVI and 0.625 grams/liter of ZVMn additions, no significant difference was observed in the pH and temperature data of the leachate generated from these reactors. The conductivity data suggested the steady rise across all reactors over the period of time. The removal efficiency of sCOD was highest (27.112 mg/lit/day) for the reactors added with ZVMn at the end of 150 days for bottom layer, however the removal rate was highest (16.955 mg/lit/day) for ZVI after the end of 150 days of the middle layer. Similar trends in the results was observed in TC analysis. HPLC study indicated the dominance of the concentration of heptanoate and isovalerate were leachate generated from the bottom layer across all reactors. Heptanoate continued to dominate in the ZVMn added leachate even after middle layer injection. IC analysis concluded the chloride was dominant in the leachate generated from all the reactors and there was a steady increase in the chloride content over the period of time. Along with chloride, fluoride, bromide, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate and sulfate were also detected in considerable concentrations. In the summary, the addition of the zero valent metals has proved to be efficient in removal of the organics present in the leachate.

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2019

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Quantification of Soil Organic Matter as Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons by GC-FID in Non-Contaminated Soils

Description

Soil impacts from crude oil spills in the United States are regulated at the state level using the analytical group total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) as the primary regulatory metric. TPH concentration in soil is used to enforce and verify

Soil impacts from crude oil spills in the United States are regulated at the state level using the analytical group total petroleum hydrocarbons (TPH) as the primary regulatory metric. TPH concentration in soil is used to enforce and verify compliance with cleanup levels (CULs). While there are significant differences between states concerning TPH CULs based on land use, most states enforce an action level of 100 mg TPH kg⁻1. The most common standard method for quantification of TPH in soils is EPA Method 8015, which entails extraction of petroleum hydrocarbons by dichloromethane and analysis by gas chromatography with flame ionization detection (GC-FID). Using Method 8015 or similar methods, TPH is defined as the cumulative area of all peaks within a defined analytical range (typically C6-C36). A limitation of TPH standard methods is their lack of specificity for petroleum hydrocarbons (i.e., these methods can also detect and quantify compounds that are an inherent part of natural soil organic matter (SOM)). While the interference of SOM compounds with TPH quantification is known, documentation regarding the extent of this interference is almost absent in the peer-reviewed literature. In this thesis, 15 biogeochemically-diverse soils, uncontaminated by crude oil hydrocarbons, were sampled from geographically diverse locations and investigated in an effort to determine the concentration of SOM that registers as TPH. Solvent extractions using dichloromethane or n-pentane in conjunction with GC-FID analysis showed that all soils had detectable concentrations of TPH ranging from 160 to 2700 mg TPH kg–1. Based on the results from this study, it can be concluded that many soils have a higher apparent TPH concentration than most US state-level CULs. In addition, the data from this study show that soils with a lower pH and/or a higher organic carbon content also have higher concentrations of apparent TPH. Findings from this thesis show that uncontaminated soils have a significant apparent TPH concentration that would be considered part of the TPH originating from contamination and should be accounted for in the regulatory landscape.

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2020

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Enhancing Reductive Dechlorination through Electrokinetic Transport and Microbially Driven H2 Cycling in the Subsurface

Description

Water is a vital resource, and its protection is a priority world-wide. One widespread threat to water quality is contamination by chlorinated solvents. These dry-cleaning and degreasing agents entered the watershed through spills and improper disposal and now are

Water is a vital resource, and its protection is a priority world-wide. One widespread threat to water quality is contamination by chlorinated solvents. These dry-cleaning and degreasing agents entered the watershed through spills and improper disposal and now are detected in 4% of U.S. aquifers and 4.5-18% of U.S. drinking water sources. The health effects of these contaminants can be severe, as they are associated with damage to the nervous, liver, kidney, and reproductive systems, developmental issues, and possibly cancer. Chlorinated solvents must be removed or transformed to improve water quality and protect human and environmental health. One remedy, bioaugmentation, the subsurface addition of microbial cultures able to transform contaminants, has been implemented successfully at hundreds of sites since the 1990s. Bioaugmentation uses the bacteria Dehalococcoides to transform chlorinated solvents with hydrogen, H2, as the electron donor. At advection limited sites, bioaugmentation can be combined with electrokinetics (EK-Bio) to enhance transport. However, challenges for successful bioremediation remain. In this work I addressed several knowledge gaps surrounding bioaugmentation and EK-Bio. I measured the H2 consuming capacity of soils, detailed the microbial metabolisms driving this demand, and evaluated how these finding relate to reductive dechlorination. I determined which reactions dominated at a contaminated site with mixed geochemistry treated with EK-Bio and compared it to traditional bioaugmentation. Lastly, I assessed the effect of EK-Bio on the microbial community at a field-scale site. Results showed the H2 consuming capacity of soils was greater than that predicted by initial measurements of inorganic electron acceptors and primarily driven by carbon-based microbial metabolisms. Other work demonstrated that, given the benefits of some carbon-based metabolisms to microbial reductive dechlorination, high levels of H2 consumption in soils are not necessarily indicative of hostile conditions for Dehalococcoides. Bench-scale experiments of EK-Bio under mixed geochemical conditions showed EK-Bio out-performed traditional bioaugmentation by facilitating biotic and abiotic transformations. Finally, results of microbial community analysis at a field-scale implementation of EK-Bio showed that while there were significant changes in alpha and beta diversity, the impact of EK-Bio on native microbial communities was minimal.

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2020