Microbiological characteristics in a zero-valent iron reactive barrier

B. Gu, J. Zhou, D.B. Watson, Debra Phillips, D.C. White, L. Wu

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    89 Citations (Scopus)


    Zero-valent iron (Fe0)-based permeable reactive barriertreatment has been generating great interest for passivegroundwater remediation, yet few studies have paid particularattention to the microbial activity and characteristics withinand in the vicinity of the Fe0-barrier matrix. The presentstudy was undertaken to evaluate the microbial population andcommunity composition in the reducing zone of influence byFe0 corrosion in the barrier at the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plantsite. Both phospholipid fatty acids and DNA analyses were usedto determine the total microbial population and microbialfunctional groups, including sulfate-reducing bacteria,denitrifying bacteria, and methanogens, in groundwater andsoil/iron core samples. A diverse microbial community wasidentified in the strongly reducing Fe0 environment despitea relatively high pH condition within the Fe0 barrier (up topH 10). In comparison with those found in the backgroundsoil/groundwater samples, the enhanced microbial populationranged from 1 to 3 orders of magnitude and appeared to increase from upgradient of the barrier to downgradient soil. Inaddition, microbial community composition appeared to change overtime, and the bacterial types of microorganismsincreased consistently as the barrier aged. DNA analysisindicated the presence of sulfate-reducing and denitrifyingbacteria in the barrier and its surrounding soil. However, theactivity of methanogens was found to be relatively low,presumably as a result of the competition by sulfate/metal-reducing bacteria and denitrifying bacteria because of the unlimited availability of sulfate and nitrate in the site groundwater. Results of this study provide evidenceof a diverse microbial population within and in the vicinity ofthe iron barrier, although the important roles of microbial activity, either beneficially or detrimentally, on the longevityand enduring efficiency of the Fe0 barriers are yet to be evaluated.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)293-309
    Number of pages17
    JournalEnvironmental Monitoring and Assessment
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2002

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Science(all)
    • Environmental Chemistry

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