|Overview||Bioremediation is the use of microbes to clean up contaminated soil and groundwater. Microbes are very small organisms, such as bacteria, that live naturally in the environment. Bioremediation stimulates the growth of certain microbes that use contaminants as a source of food and energy. Contaminants treated using bioremediation include oil and other petroleum products, solvents, and pesticides|
|How Does it Work||Some types of microbes eat and digest contaminants, usually changing them into small amounts of water and harmless gases like carbon dioxide and ethene. If soil and groundwater do not have enough of the right microbes, they can be added in a process called “bioaugmentation.”
For bioremediation to be effective, the right temperature, nutrients, and food also must be present. Proper conditions allow the right microbes to grow and multiply—and eat more contaminants. If conditions are not right, microbes grow too slowly or die, and contaminants are not cleaned up. Conditions may be improved by adding “amendments.” Amendments range from household items like molasses and vegetable oil, to air and chemicals that produce oxygen. Amendments are often pumped underground through wells to treat soil and groundwater in situ (in place).
To clean up contaminated groundwater in situ, wells are drilled to pump some of the groundwater into above ground tanks. Here, the water is mixed with amendments before it is pumped back into the ground. The groundwater enriched with amendments allows microbes to bioremediate the rest of the contaminated groundwater underground.
|Pollutants Removed||Fuel oil, Solvents , Pesticides|
|Area of Application||Soil and Groundwater Remediation|
|Treatment Time||few months to a Several years, Morderate|