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Title: Final Report - Montana State University - Microbial Activity and Precipitation at Solution-Solution Mixing Zones in Porous Media

Background. The use of biological and chemical processes that degrade or immobilize contaminants in subsurface environments is a cornerstone of remediation technology. The enhancement of biological and chemical processes in situ, involves the transport, displacement, distribution and mixing of one or more reactive agents. Biological and chemical reactions all require diffusive transport of solutes to reaction sites at the molecular scale and accordingly, the success of processes at the meter-scale and larger is dictated by the success of phenomena that occur at the micron-scale. However, current understanding of scaling effects on the mixing and delivery of nutrients in biogeochemically dynamic porous media systems is limited, despite the limitations this imposes on the efficiency and effectiveness of the remediation challenges at hand. Objectives. We therefore proposed to experimentally characterize and computationally describe the growth, evolution, and distribution of microbial activity and mineral formation as well as changes in transport processes in porous media that receive two or more reactive amendments. The model system chosen for this project was based on a method for immobilizing 90Sr, which involves stimulating microbial urea hydrolysis with ensuing mineral precipitation (CaCO3), and co-precipitation of Sr. Studies at different laboratory scales were used to visualize and quantitativelymore » describe the spatial relationships between amendment transport and consumption that stimulate the production of biomass and mineral phases that subsequently modify the permeability and heterogeneity of porous media. Biomass growth, activity, and mass deposition in mixing zones was investigated using two-dimensional micro-model flow cells as well as flow cells that could be analyzed using synchrotron-based x-ray tomography. Larger-scale flow-cell experiments were conducted where the spatial distribution of media properties, flow, segregation of biological activity and impact on ancillary constituents (i.e., Sr) was determined. Model simulations accompanied the experimental efforts. Benefits and Outcomes of the Project. The research contributed towards defining the key physical, chemical, and biological processes influencing the form and mobility of DOE priority contaminants (e.g., 60Co, 90Sr, U) in the subsurface. The work conducted and reported herein, will in the future (i) contribute to controlling the juxtaposition of microbial activity, contaminants and amendments, (ii) promote new strategies for delivering amendments, and (iii) allow new approaches for modifying permeability and flow in porous media. We feel that the work has already translated directly to improving the efficiency of amendment based remediation strategies. Products. The results of the project have been published in a number of peer reviewed journal articles. The abstracts and citations to those articles, given in section 2.0 below, make up the bulk of this final report.« less
  1. Montana State University
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
Final Report
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Montana State University
Sponsoring Org:
USDOE Office of Science (SC), Biological and Environmental Research (BER) (SC-23)
Contributing Orgs:
Montana State University, University of Aberystwyth, Oregon State University, Idaho National Laboratory
Country of Publication:
United States
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; 58 GEOSCIENCES; 42 ENGINEERING; 60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES; microbially induced calcium carbonate precipitation, MICP, ureolysis, strontium, bioremediation, sporosarcina pasteurii, green fluorescent protein