Bioremediation has become a more common environmental remediation strategy as laboratory technologies have advanced and are able to increase confidence before large capital expenditures. Historically, the lack of confidence in bioremediation has hindered its full potential and implementation. RespirTek has worked for over 15 years refining and developing lab-scale bioremediation assessment protocols that correlate strongly with remediation results in the field.
Each bioremediation project is unique, and our Technical Team works with you to develop a practical testing protocol to answer the relevant questions for proper bioremediation plan design.
The most economical means for cleaning up contamination in soils and groundwater aquifers is through stimulation of indigenous microbial consortia to drive mineralization of the contaminants of concern. Advances in instrument technology and laboratory protocols have enabled lab-scale studies to correlate well with field applications so that the uncertainty in bioremediation and the overall cost of cleanup can both be minimized.
RespirTek has carried out 100+ lab-scale studies that have provided the foundation for rational bioremediation strategies. Historically, bioremediation has been a “blind approach” where nutrient applications to contaminated areas were a hit-or-miss. With advanced lab capabilities across the world to assist in identifying proper routes for site-specific biostimulation, a higher degree of certainty can be applied in risk and financial assessments used to guide the engineering design during site assessment and remediation.
Common Approaches to Bioremediation of Contaminated Sites
1. Natural Attenuation allows the indigenous microbial consortia to mineralize contaminants of concern utilizing nutrient and/or electron acceptors native to the site geochemistry. RespirTek can assist you in determining degradation kinetics for natural attenuation models that are used to justify this approach to regulatory agencies. Lab testing can provide certainty that natural attenuation is a viable option. This approach in bioremediation is the most economical as it is a “do-nothing” approach yet typically involves significantly longer time-frames for cleanup.
2. Biostimulation involves direct addition of nutrients, terminal electron acceptors, and/or co-substrates to drive bioremediation processes by indigenous microorganisms. In nearly all cases involving bioremediation of hydrocarbon-contaminated sites such as underground storage tank facilities, nutrient limitations inhibit rapid mineralization of the hydrocarbon. Terminal electron acceptors such as oxygen (aerobic metabolism) or nitrate/sulfate (anaerobic metabolism) can also limit the rate of bioremediation. RespirTek can help determine the optimal nutrient loading, rate of biodegradation and contaminant mineralization, pH changes, microbial population dynamics, and/or final contaminant concentrations.
3. Bioaugmentation is an approach that introduces non-native microbes that are selective toward metabolizing the contaminant of concern. Dehalococcoides was one of the first anaerobic organisms isolated and later used in bioaugmentation strategies for remediation of chlorinated hydrocarbons such as TCE, PCE, and DCE. Bioaugmentation products are available for nearly all contaminant types. However, the effectiveness and dosing rate of these products is dependent on site-specific biogeochemistry. RespirTek can help determine compatible product selections and optimum dose rate.
The most suitable bioremediation strategy can be assessed by analyzing the site’s native biogeochemistry and microbial enumeration/speciation with inexpensive laboratory testing. RespirTek lends its expertise by helping identify these biogeochemical parameters, managing the analytical testing, and interpreting the results and recommendations during a follow up discussion. Even in cases where the site is not conducive to bioremediation, the relatively small cost associated with biogeochemical assessment are worth the confidence in choosing the best remediation strategy.
Project management and testing guidance for risk-assessment
Design of lab or pilot-scale bioremediation protocols
Engineering design for implementation of bioremediation protocols on-site
Identification of limiting factors (toxicity, nutrient limitations, etc.)
Hybrid chemical oxidation-bioremediation approaches
Indigenous microbial health assessments
Mathematical modeling and testing support to obtain model inputs such as transport and microbial-kinetic parameters
RespirTek is ISO/IEC 17025:2017 certified in advanced microcosm testing protocols that involved chemical analytical testing and microbial respiration testing. Our testing services provide you with the confidence you need in evaluating the wide array of environmental remediation strategies available.
Call us at 228-392-7977 for a free consultation.