Coupling of polyhydroxybutyrate and zero-valent iron for enhanced treatment of nitrate pollution within the Permeable Reactive Barrier and its downgradient aquifer
AffiliationDepartment of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona
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CitationYu, W., Zheng, T., Guo, B., Tao, Y., Liu, L., Yan, N., & Zheng, X. (2023). Coupling of polyhydroxybutyrate and zero-valent iron for enhanced treatment of nitrate pollution within the Permeable Reactive Barrier and its downgradient aquifer. Water Research, 121060.
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AbstractPermeable Reactive Barriers (PRBs) have been utilized for mitigating nitrate pollution in groundwater systems through the use of solid carbon and iron fillers that release diverse nutrients to enhance denitrification efficiency. We conduct laboratory column tests to evaluate the effectiveness of PRBs in remediating nitrate pollution both within the PRB and in the downgradient aquifer. We use an iron-carbon hydrogel (ICH) as PRB filler, which has different weight ratios of polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) and microscale zero-valent iron (mZVI). Results reveal that denitrification in the downgradient aquifer accounts for at least 19.5 % to 32.5 % of the total nitrate removal. In the ICH, a higher ratio of PHB to mZVI leads to higher contribution of the downgradient aquifer to nitrate removal, while a lower ratio results in smaller contribution. Microbial community analysis further reveals that heterotrophic and mixotrophic bacteria dominate in the downgradient aquifer of the PRB, and their relative abundance increases with a higher ratio of PHB to mZVI in the ICH. Within the PRB, autotrophic and iron-reducing bacteria are more prevalent, and their abundance increases as the ratio of PHB to mZVI in the ICH decreases. These findings emphasize the downgradient aquifer's substantial role in nitrate removal, particularly driven by dissolved organic carbon provided by PHB. This research holds significant implications for nutrient waste management, including the prevention of secondary pollution, and the development of cost-effective PRBs.
Note24 month embargo: first published 26 December 2023
VersionFinal accepted manuscript