Potential for anaerobic bioremediation of BTEX in petroleum-contaminated aquifers

  • D R Lovley

Laboratory incubations of aquifer material or enrichments derived from aquifer material as well as geochemical data have suggested that, under the appropriate conditions, BTEX components of petroleum (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene) can be degraded in the absence of molecular oxygen with either Fe(III), sulfate, or nitrate serving as the electron acceptor. BTEX degradation under methanogenic conditions has also been observed. However, especially for benzene, the BTEX contaminant of greatest concern, anaerobic degradation is often difficult to establish and maintain in laboratory incubations. Although studies to date have suggested that naturally occurring anaerobic BTEX degradation has the potential to remove significant quantities of BTEX from petroleum-contaminated aquifers, and mechanisms for stimulating anaerobic BTEX degradation in laboratory incubations have been developed, further study of the organisms involved in this metabolism and the factors controlling their distribution and activity are required before it will be possible to design rational strategies for accelerating anaerobic BTEX degradation in contaminated aquifers.

Keywords: benzene; toluene; groundwater; Fe(III) reduction; sulfate reduction 

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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • D R Lovley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Massachusetts 01003, USAUS

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