Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Hot microbes cause groundwater cleanup rethink

22.09.2009
CSIRO researchers have discovered that micro-organisms that help break down contaminants under the soil can actually get too hot for their own good.

While investigating ways of cleaning up groundwater contamination, scientists examined how microbes break down contaminants under the soil’s surface and found that subsurface temperatures associated with microbial degradation can become too hot for the microbes to grow and consume the groundwater contaminants.

This can slow down the clean up of the groundwater and even continue the spread of contamination.

The new findings mean that researchers now have to rethink the way groundwater remediation systems are designed.

“Although increasing the flow of air would reduce temperatures and overcome these limitations a fine balance needs to be struck as the injected air can generate hazardous vapours that overwhelm the micro-organisms leading to unwanted atmospheric emissions at the ground surface,” Mr Johnston said.CSIRO Water for a Healthy Country Flagship scientist Mr Colin Johnston, who is based in Perth, Western Australia, said the researchers were investigating how temperatures below the soil’s surface could be used as an indicator of the microbial degradation process associated with biosparging.

Biosparging is a technique that injects air into polluted groundwater to enhance the degradation of contaminants.

The contaminants are ‘food’ to the microbes and the oxygen in the air helps the microbes unlock the energy in the food so that they metabolise and grow, consuming more contaminants and stopping the spread of the contamination.

“Observations of diesel fuel contamination showed that, at 3.5 metres below the ground surface, temperatures reached as high as 47 °C,” Mr Johnston said.

“This is close to the 52 °C maximum temperature tolerated by the community of micro-organisms that naturally live in the soil at this depth and within the range where the growth of the community was suppressed.”

The growth of the soil’s micro-organism community can also be helped by adding nutrients.

However computer modelling confirmed that any attempts to further increase degradation of the contamination through the addition of nutrients had the potential to raise temperatures above the maximum for growth.

“Although increasing the flow of air would reduce temperatures and overcome these limitations a fine balance needs to be struck as the injected air can generate hazardous vapours that overwhelm the micro-organisms leading to unwanted atmospheric emissions at the ground surface,” Mr Johnston said.

“This would be particularly so for highly volatile compounds such as gasoline.

“It appears that prudent manipulation of operating conditions and appropriate timing of nutrient addition may help limit temperature increases.”

Mr Johnston said further research was required to better understand the thermal properties in the subsurface as well as the seasonal effects of rainfall infiltration and surface soil heating.

Anne McKenzie | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.csiro.au

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Dune ecosystem modelling
23.06.2017 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht Understanding animal social networks can aid wildlife conservation
23.06.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Gewässerökologie und Binnenfischerei (IGB)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Can we see monkeys from space? Emerging technologies to map biodiversity

An international team of scientists has proposed a new multi-disciplinary approach in which an array of new technologies will allow us to map biodiversity and the risks that wildlife is facing at the scale of whole landscapes. The findings are published in Nature Ecology and Evolution. This international research is led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology from China, University of East Anglia, University of Leicester and the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.

Using a combination of satellite and ground data, the team proposes that it is now possible to map biodiversity with an accuracy that has not been previously...

Im Focus: Climate satellite: Tracking methane with robust laser technology

Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.

Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...

Im Focus: How protons move through a fuel cell

Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.

As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...

Im Focus: A unique data centre for cosmological simulations

Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.

With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...

Im Focus: Scientists develop molecular thermometer for contactless measurement using infrared light

Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine

Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Plants are networkers

19.06.2017 | Event News

Digital Survival Training for Executives

13.06.2017 | Event News

Global Learning Council Summit 2017

13.06.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Quantum thermometer or optical refrigerator?

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

A 100-year-old physics problem has been solved at EPFL

23.06.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Equipping form with function

23.06.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>