Remediation of sites contaminated with BTEX/AHC aromatics

Development of process parameters to stimulate the anaerobic BTEX degradation in the lab and in pilot tests

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The remediation of BTEX-contaminated groundwater, for example via Pump & Treat, has frequently proved inadequate and economically untenable. The aim of the project is to develop an in-situ remediation process under sulphate-reducing conditions as a sustainable, cost-effective and sufficiently efficient remediation alternative and to develop a biomonitoring method for process-specific detection.

The remediation of groundwater contaminated with volatile aromatic hydrocarbons (BTEX/AHC aromatics) by means of frequently used treatments via Pump & Treat, for instance, is often inefficient and economically untenable. The research approach is aimed at strengthening the natural anaerobic pollutant degradation, which should be achieved by anaerobically stimulating the pollutant degradation using sulphate. The key advantages of such a method lie in its simple stimulation of the microbial degradation while also offering good control and sufficient efficiency. Laboratory trials provide evidence of effective and substantial microbial BTEX degradation under sulphate-reducing conditions. Frequent process engineering problems that arise during conventional remediation such as hydraulic blocking, for example by ferric precipitation, are not an issue under sulphate-reducing conditions.

Once the hydraulic site parameters and formulating microbiological process parameters in the lab and in the field are determined, the on-site testing and measurement concept and a field trial will be implemented together with the cooperation partner (AS Reutemann). Process monitoring during the field trial uses an anaerobic biomonitoring process developed at TZW. The objective is to create a scalable method that can be used in a variety of contamination incidents.


Müller A., Schmidt K.R., Tiehm A.: Natural Attenuation (NA) in der Praxis – Beispiele aus der Altlastenbearbeitung [Natural attenuation in practice – examples from the treatment of contaminated sites]. In: Egloffstein/Burkhardt (ed.), Altlasten 2017 – Von der Altlastensanierung zum vorsorgenden Boden- und Grundwasserschutz, Beiträge zum Seminar Band 31 [Contaminated sites 2017 – from contaminated site rehabilitation to preventative soil and groundwater protection, seminar articles vol. 31] (ICP Eigenverlag, ISBN 978-3-939662-20-4), 21-22 June 2017, Karlsruhe: 159-174 (2017)