, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 351–371 | Cite as

Model based evaluation of a contaminant plume development under aerobic and anaerobic conditions in 2D bench-scale tank experiments

  • E. BallariniEmail author
  • C. Beyer
  • R. D. Bauer
  • C. Griebler
  • S. Bauer
Original Article


The influence of transverse mixing on competitive aerobic and anaerobic biodegradation of a hydrocarbon plume was investigated using a two-dimensional, bench-scale flow-through laboratory tank experiment. In the first part of the experiment aerobic degradation of increasing toluene concentrations was carried out by the aerobic strain Pseudomonas putida F1. Successively, ethylbenzene (injected as a mixture of unlabeled and fully deuterium-labeled isotopologues) substituted toluene; nitrate was added as additional electron acceptor and the anaerobic denitrifying strain Aromatoleum aromaticum EbN1 was inoculated to study competitive degradation under aerobic / anaerobic conditions. The spatial distribution of anaerobic degradation was resolved by measurements of compound-specific stable isotope fractionation induced by the anaerobic strain as well as compound concentrations. A fully transient numerical reactive transport model was employed and calibrated using measurements of electron donors, acceptors and isotope fractionation. The aerobic phases of the experiment were successfully reproduced using a double Monod kinetic growth model and assuming an initial homogeneous distribution of P. putida F1. Investigation of the competitive degradation phase shows that the observed isotopic pattern cannot be explained by transverse mixing driven biodegradation only, but also depends on the inoculation process of the anaerobic strain. Transient concentrations of electron acceptors and donors are well reproduced by the model, showing its ability to simulate transient competitive biodegradation.


Competitive biodegradation Isotope fractionation Numerical modeling Transverse mixing 



This work is a cooperation within the research group “Reaction in porous media” (FOR 525/2) funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. Ballarini
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Beyer
    • 1
  • R. D. Bauer
    • 2
  • C. Griebler
    • 2
  • S. Bauer
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of GeosciencesUniversity of KielKielGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Groundwater EcologyHelmholtz Zentrum MünchenNeuherbergGermany

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