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The objective of this study was to operate a field-scale, aerobic Biomass Concentrator and assess its performance at the ex-situ treatment of contaminated groundwater containing elevated concentrations of MTBE (methyl tert-butyl ether), TBA (tert-butyl alcohol), TBF (tert-butyl formate), BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, and xylene isomers), and other gasoline additives (tert-amyl methyl ether, di-isopropyl ether, and tert-amyl alcohol) in Pascoag, RI. The BCR was operated for six months at a flow rate that ultimately reached 5 gpm of contaminated groundwater containing MTBE at a concentration as high as 12 mg/L. The 8 m3 BCR was shown to effectively remove all the targeted contaminants, especially the recalcitrant MTBE compound, down to the desired 5 μg/L at a flow rate as high as 5 gpm. The concentration of TBA, an MTBE biodegradation byproduct, was consistently lower than that of MTBE. The other daughter compound detected in the influent, TBF, was degraded to concentrations below detection limit. The BTEX compounds that are inherently more biodegradable than MTBE were observed at lower levels in the effluent throughout the duration of the study (< 1μg/L). A similar high removal efficiency of the other targeted gasoline oxygenates (TAME, DIPE, and TAA) was also achieved. Dissolved organic carbon analysis demonstrated the ability of the bioreactor to produce effluents of excellent quality with non-purgeable organic carbon averaging at 2.07 (± 0.51) mg/L in the effluent.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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