Application of an emulsified polycolloid substrate biobarrier to remediate petroleum-hydrocarbon contaminated groundwater

T. H. Lee, D. C.W. Tsang, W. H. Chen, F. Verpoort, Y. T. Sheu, C. M. Kao

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Emulsified polycolloid substrate (EPS) was developed and applied in situ to form a biobarrier for the containment and enhanced bioremediation of a petroleum-hydrocarbon plume. EPS had a negative zeta potential (−35.7 mv), which promoted its even distribution after injection. Batch and column experiments were performed to evaluate the effectiveness of EPS on toluene containment and biodegradation. The EPS-to-water partition coefficient for toluene (target compound) was 943. Thus, toluene had a significant sorption affinity to EPS, which caused reduced toluene concentration in water phase in the EPS/water system. Groundwater containing toluene (18 mg/L) was pumped into the three-column system at a flow rate of 0.28 mL/min, while EPS was injected into the second column to form a biobarrier. A significant reduction of toluene concentration to 0.1 mg/L was observed immediately after EPS injection. This indicates that EPS could effectively contain toluene plume and prevent its further migration to farther downgradient zone. Approximately 99% of toluene was removed after 296 PVs of operation via sorption, natural attenuation, and EPS-enhanced biodegradation. Increase in total organic carbon and bacteria were also observed after EPS supplement. Supplement of EPS resulted in a growth of petroleum-hydrocarbon degrading bacteria, which enhanced the toluene biodegradation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)444-455
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • Emulsified polycolloid substrate (EPS)
  • In situ bioremediation
  • Permeable reactive barrier
  • Petroleum hydrocarbon
  • Toluene partition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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