Exploration of Biological Treatment Systems for the Removal of Persistent Landfill Leachate Contaminants and Nanoparticles
AdvisorField, James A.
Sierra Alvarez, Maria Reyes
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThe integrity of groundwater sources is constantly threatened by contaminant plumes generated by accidental gasoline leakages and leachates escaping landfills. These plumes are of concern due to their proven toxicity to living organisms. Aromatic and chlorinated hydrocarbons, volatile fatty acids, phenols, and ammonia have been found in these leachates. In addition, benzene, toluene, and xylenes (BTX) are major components of gasoline. The lack of oxygen in groundwater makes anaerobic bioremediation desired for the treatment of groundwater contaminated with BTX and chlorinated solvents. With the objective of finding microorganisms capable of BTX and cis-dichloroethylene (cis-DCE) degradation under anaerobic conditions for their use in permeable reactive barriers, different inocula were tested in batch experiments. Toluene was rapidly degraded by several inocula in the presence of alternative electron acceptors. Benzene and m-xylene were eliminated by few of the inocula tested after incubation periods ranging from 244 to 716 days. cis-DCE was highly recalcitrant as no degradation was observed over 440 days. Biological processes have been successfully applied for the treatment of landfill leachates as well. In an effort to provide an effective and economical alternative, an anaerobic-aerobic system was evaluated using a synthetic media simulating the organic and ammonia content of real leachates. The removal of the organic content reached 98% in an upflow anaerobic sludge blanket reactor, and resulted in the formation of methane. During the aerobic process, in an innovative down-flow sponge reactor, ammonia was highly transformed to nitrite and nitrate. Complete nitrification was eventually achieved.The capacity of current wastewater treatment plants for removing nanoparticles has been questioned during the last years. Nanoparticles have been incorporated into numerous applications and their presence in wastewater seems to be inevitable. A laboratory-scale secondary treatment system was set-in to study the behavior of cerium and aluminum oxide nanoparticles during wastewater treatment. The nanoparticles were highly removed, suggesting that secondary treatment is suitable for their elimination. The removal of these nanoparticles was influenced by the pH and organic content of the wastewater. Aluminum nanoparticles proved to be toxic; however the performance of the system for eliminating the organic content was recovered over time.
Degree ProgramGraduate College