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Methyl tertiary Butyl Ether (MtBE) can be much more expensive to remove from contaminated groundwater by conventional treatment than benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene (BTEX). We have implemented a Bio-augmented granular activated carbon (BioGAC) system to remove this oxygenate compound to below 5 ppb consistently at a large flow (250 gpm total) California groundwater extraction system. Although tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) has only been detected in the feed stream periodically, it is also degraded by the same culture to very low level.

This BioGAC technology involves the modification of a typical activated carbon system by adding an oxygen source, a nutrient solution, and inoculation of the carbon with a patented bacterial culture maintained in our facility. After a period of acclimation, the system can reduce the incoming MTBE to below detection level. The BioGAC design does not deviate significantly from a typical granular carbon system for a similar application. The operation and maintenance would also be similar to a conventional GAC bed. However, the expensive carbon replacement cost will be significantly reduced and in most cases, eliminated.

The inoculation and performance of this groundwater pump and treat system will be described in detail. The factors governing the performance of these biological units will also be discussed.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2003-01-01

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