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Temperature as a Tool to Evaluate Aerobic Biodegradation in Hydrocarbon Contaminated Soil

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This study evaluates the theory, and some practical aspects of using temperature measurements to assess aerobic biodegradation in hydrocarbon contaminated soil. The method provides an easily applicable alternative for quantifying the rate of biodegradation and/or evaluating the performance of in situ remediation systems. The method involves two nonintrusive procedures for measuring vertical temperature profiles down existing monitoring wells; one using a thermistor on a cable for one‐time measurements and the other using compact temperature data loggers deployed for 3‐month to 1‐year period. These vertical temperature profile measurements are used to identify the depth and lateral extent of biodegradation as well as to monitor seasonal temperature changes throughout the year. The basic theory for using temperature measurements to estimate the minimum rate of biodegradation will be developed, and used to evaluate field measurements from sites in California where biodegradation of spilled petroleum hydrocarbons is due to natural processes. Following, temperature data will be used to evaluate the relative rates of biodegradation due to natural processes and soil vapor extraction (SVE) at a former refinery site in the North‐Central United States. The results from this study show that the temperature method can be a simple, cost effective tool for assessing biodegradation in the soil, and optimizing remediation systems at a wide variety of hydrocarbon spill sites.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2014

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