Persistent Link:
http://hdl.handle.net/10150/202754
Title:
Anaerobic Bioremediation of Hexavalent Uranium in Groundwater
Author:
Tapia-Rodriguez, Aida Cecilia
Issue Date:
2011
Publisher:
The University of Arizona.
Rights:
Copyright © 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.
Abstract:
Uranium contamination of groundwater from mining and milling operations is an environmental concern. Reductive precipitation of soluble and mobile hexavalent uranium (U(VI)) contamination to insoluble and immobile tetravalent uranium (U(IV)) constitutes the most promising remediation approach for uranium in groundwater. Previous research has shown that many microorganisms are able to catalyze this reaction in the presence of suitable electron-donors. The purpose of this work is to explore lowcost, effective alternatives for biologically catalyzed reductive precipitation of U(VI). Methanogenic granular sludge from anaerobic reactors treating industrial wastewaters was tested for its ability to support U(VI)-reduction. Due to their high microbial diversity, methanogenic granules displayed intrinsic activity towards U(VI)-reduction. Endogenous substrates from the slow decomposition of sludge biomass provided electron-equivalents to support efficient U(VI)-reduction without external electrondonors. Continuous columns with methanogenic granules also demonstrated sustained reduction for one year at high uranium loading rates. One column fed with ethanol, only enabled a short-term enhancement in the uranium removal efficiency, and no enhancement over the long term compared to the endogenous column. Nitrate, a common co-contaminant of uranium, remobilized previously deposited biogenic U(IV). U(VI) also caused inhibition to denitrification. An enrichment culture (EC) was developed from a zero-valent iron (Fe⁰)/sand packed-bed bioreactor. During 28 months, the EC enhanced U(VI)-reduction rates by Fe⁰ compared with abiotic Fe⁰ controls. Additional experiments indicated that the EC prevented the passivation of Fe⁰ surfaces through the use of cathodic H₂ for the reduction of Fe(III) in passivating corrosion mineral phases (e.g. magnetite) to Fe²⁺. This contributed to the formation of secondary minerals more enriched with Fe(II), which are known to be chemically reactive with U(VI). To determine the toxicity of U(VI) to different populations present in uranium contaminated sites, including methanogens, denitrifiers and uranium-reducers, experiments were carried out with anaerobic mixed cultures at increasing U(VI) concentrations. Significant inhibition to the presence of U(VI) was observed for methanogens and denitrifiers. On the other hand uranium-reducing microorganisms were tolerant to high U(VI) concentrations. The results of this dissertation indicate that direct microbial reduction of U(VI) and microbially enhanced reduction of U(VI) by Fe⁰ are promising approaches for uranium bioremediation.
Type:
text; Electronic Dissertation
Keywords:
methanogenic; reduction; uranium; zero-valent iron; Environmental Engineering; anaerobic; bioremediation
Degree Name:
Ph.D.
Degree Level:
doctoral
Degree Program:
Graduate College; Environmental Engineering
Degree Grantor:
University of Arizona
Advisor:
Field, James A.; Sierra-Alvarez, Maria Reyes

Full metadata record

DC FieldValue Language
dc.language.isoenen_US
dc.titleAnaerobic Bioremediation of Hexavalent Uranium in Groundwateren_US
dc.creatorTapia-Rodriguez, Aida Ceciliaen_US
dc.contributor.authorTapia-Rodriguez, Aida Ceciliaen_US
dc.date.issued2011-
dc.publisherThe University of Arizona.en_US
dc.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.en_US
dc.description.abstractUranium contamination of groundwater from mining and milling operations is an environmental concern. Reductive precipitation of soluble and mobile hexavalent uranium (U(VI)) contamination to insoluble and immobile tetravalent uranium (U(IV)) constitutes the most promising remediation approach for uranium in groundwater. Previous research has shown that many microorganisms are able to catalyze this reaction in the presence of suitable electron-donors. The purpose of this work is to explore lowcost, effective alternatives for biologically catalyzed reductive precipitation of U(VI). Methanogenic granular sludge from anaerobic reactors treating industrial wastewaters was tested for its ability to support U(VI)-reduction. Due to their high microbial diversity, methanogenic granules displayed intrinsic activity towards U(VI)-reduction. Endogenous substrates from the slow decomposition of sludge biomass provided electron-equivalents to support efficient U(VI)-reduction without external electrondonors. Continuous columns with methanogenic granules also demonstrated sustained reduction for one year at high uranium loading rates. One column fed with ethanol, only enabled a short-term enhancement in the uranium removal efficiency, and no enhancement over the long term compared to the endogenous column. Nitrate, a common co-contaminant of uranium, remobilized previously deposited biogenic U(IV). U(VI) also caused inhibition to denitrification. An enrichment culture (EC) was developed from a zero-valent iron (Fe⁰)/sand packed-bed bioreactor. During 28 months, the EC enhanced U(VI)-reduction rates by Fe⁰ compared with abiotic Fe⁰ controls. Additional experiments indicated that the EC prevented the passivation of Fe⁰ surfaces through the use of cathodic H₂ for the reduction of Fe(III) in passivating corrosion mineral phases (e.g. magnetite) to Fe²⁺. This contributed to the formation of secondary minerals more enriched with Fe(II), which are known to be chemically reactive with U(VI). To determine the toxicity of U(VI) to different populations present in uranium contaminated sites, including methanogens, denitrifiers and uranium-reducers, experiments were carried out with anaerobic mixed cultures at increasing U(VI) concentrations. Significant inhibition to the presence of U(VI) was observed for methanogens and denitrifiers. On the other hand uranium-reducing microorganisms were tolerant to high U(VI) concentrations. The results of this dissertation indicate that direct microbial reduction of U(VI) and microbially enhanced reduction of U(VI) by Fe⁰ are promising approaches for uranium bioremediation.en_US
dc.typetexten_US
dc.typeElectronic Dissertationen_US
dc.subjectmethanogenicen_US
dc.subjectreductionen_US
dc.subjecturaniumen_US
dc.subjectzero-valent ironen_US
dc.subjectEnvironmental Engineeringen_US
dc.subjectanaerobicen_US
dc.subjectbioremediationen_US
thesis.degree.namePh.D.en_US
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineGraduate Collegeen_US
thesis.degree.disciplineEnvironmental Engineeringen_US
thesis.degree.grantorUniversity of Arizonaen_US
dc.contributor.advisorField, James A.en_US
dc.contributor.advisorSierra-Alvarez, Maria Reyesen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberFarrell, Jamesen_US
dc.contributor.committeememberChorover, Jonathan D.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberField, James A.en_US
dc.contributor.committeememberSierra-Alvarez, Maria Reyesen_US
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