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The Stimulation of a Ureolytic Denitrifying Microbial Community for Microbially Induced Carbonate Precipitation

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This dissertation investigates the potential for stimulating ureolytic and denitrifying microbes concurrently (i.e., stimulating a ureolytic, denitrifying microbial community) for a more efficient microbially induced carbonate precipitation (MICP) process. Three

This dissertation investigates the potential for stimulating ureolytic and denitrifying microbes concurrently (i.e., stimulating a ureolytic, denitrifying microbial community) for a more efficient microbially induced carbonate precipitation (MICP) process. Three sand columns were run for a treatment period of six weeks with a continuous flow of nutrient solution containing calcium nitrate, calcium acetate, calcium chloride, magnesium sulfate, tryptic soy broth and trace metals. The first and third columns served as control columns, within which only denitrification processes were at work. The first column was used for periodic sampling to measure the pH, ion concentrations, and total nitrogen over time. The third column was used to measure compressional (P-) and shear (S-) wave velocities to monitor cementation and desaturation over time. The second column was subject to initial conditions identical to the other two columns except that urea was added to the nutrient solution to stimulate ureolysis and was also subject to sampling. This was done to determine whether the use of the combined MICP processes resulted in increased efficiency of precipitation. Results from ion chromatography analysis, acid digestion and scanning electron microscope imaging did not show an increase in the amount of carbonate precipitated for the second column, possibly due to nitrite inhibition and abiotic hydrolysis of the urea from sterilization of the nutrient solution through autoclaving. However, the stimulation of denitrification and ureolysis in combination was achieved, and the amount of carbonate precipitation per mol of nitrate reduced increased, which in a sense increased the efficiency of the system. Ultimately, more experimentation is needed to determine if this combination is beneficial for MICP.

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Date Created
  • 2016-05

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Mitigation of earthquake-induced soil liquefaction via microbial denitrification: a two-stage process

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The dissimilatory reduction of nitrate, or denitrification, offers the potential of a sustainable, cost effective method for the non-disruptive mitigation of earthquake-induced soil liquefaction. Worldwide, trillions of dollars of

The dissimilatory reduction of nitrate, or denitrification, offers the potential of a sustainable, cost effective method for the non-disruptive mitigation of earthquake-induced soil liquefaction. Worldwide, trillions of dollars of infrastructure are at risk for liquefaction damage in earthquake prone regions. However, most techniques for remediating liquefiable soils are either not applicable to sites near existing infrastructure, or are prohibitively expensive. Recently, laboratory studies have shown the potential for biogeotechnical soil improvement techniques such as microbially induced carbonate precipitation (MICP) to mitigate liquefaction potential in a non-disruptive manner. Multiple microbial processes have been identified for MICP, but only two have been extensively studied. Ureolysis, the most commonly studied process for MICP, has been shown to quickly and efficiently induce carbonate precipitation on particle surfaces and at particle contacts to improve the stiffness, strength, and dilatant behavior of liquefiable soils. However, ureolysis also produces copious amounts of ammonium, a potentially toxic byproduct. The second process studied for MICP, denitrification, has been shown to precipitate carbonate, and hence improve soil properties, much more slowly than ureolysis. However, the byproducts of denitrification, nitrogen and carbon dioxide gas, are non-toxic, and present the added benefit of rapidly desaturating the treated soil. Small amounts of desaturation have been shown to increase the cyclic resistance, and hence the liquefaction resistance, of liquefiable soils. So, denitrification offers the potential to mitigate liquefaction as a two-stage process, with desaturation providing short term mitigation, and MICP providing long term liquefaction resistance. This study presents the results of soil testing, stoichiometric modeling, and microbial ecology characterization to better characterize the potential use of denitrification as a two-stage process for liquefaction mitigation.

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Date Created
  • 2016