Degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in unsaturated soil and effects on subsequent biodegradation by potassium permanganate

  • Rishikesh Bajagain
  • Prakash Gautam
  • Seung-Woo JeongEmail author
Original Paper


To date, the oxidation of petroleum hydrocarbons using permanganate has been investigated rarely. Only a few studies on the remediation of unsaturated soil using permanganate can be found in the literature. This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first study conducted using permanganate pretreatment to degrade petroleum hydrocarbons in unsaturated soil in combination with subsequent bioaugmentation. The pretreatment of diesel-contaminated unsaturated soil with 0.5-pore-volume (5%) potassium permanganate (PP) by solution pouring and foam spraying (with a surfactant) achieved the total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) removal efficiencies of 37% and 72.1%, respectively. The PP foam, when coupled with bioaugmentation foam, further degraded the TPH to a final concentration of 438 mg/kg (92.1% total reduction). The experiment was conducted without soil mixing or disturbance. The relatively high TPH removal efficiency achieved by the PP–bioaugmentation serial foam application may be attributed to an increase in soil pH caused by the PP and effective infiltration of the remediation agent by foaming. The applied PP foam increased the pH of the acidic soil, thus enhancing microbial activity. The first-order biodegradation rate after PP oxidation was calculated to be 0.068 d−1. Furthermore, 94% of the group of relatively persistent hydrocarbons (C18–C22) was removed by PP–bioaugmentation, as verified by chromatogram peaks. Some physicochemical parameters related to contaminant removal efficiency were also evaluated. The results reveal that PP can degrade soil TPH and significantly enhance the biodegradation rate in unsaturated diesel-contaminated soil when combined with bioaugmentation foam.


Diesel-contaminated soil Potassium permanganate Bioaugmentation Microbial population Biodegradation rate 



This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea (2018R1A2B6006139).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.

Supplementary material

10653_2019_346_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 27 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental EngineeringKunsan National UniversityKunsanSouth Korea

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