Composting of explosives and propellant contaminated soils under thermophilic and mesophilic conditions

Research paper by Richard T. Williams, P. Scott Ziegenfuss, Wayne E. Sisk

Indexed on: 01 Feb '92Published on: 01 Feb '92Published in: Journal of industrial microbiology


Composting was investigated as a bioremediation technology for clean-up of sediments contaminated with explosives and propellants. Two field demonstrations were conducted, the first using 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (TNT), octahydro-1,3,5,7-tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetraazocine (HMX), hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX), and N-methyl-N,2,4,6-tetranitroaniline (tetryl) contaminated sediment, and the second using nitrocellulose (NC) contaminated soil. Tests were conducted in thermophilic and mesophilic aerated static piles. Extractable TNT was reduced from 11840 mg/kg to 3 mg/kg, and NC from 13090 mg/kg to 16 mg/kg under thermophilic conditions. Under mesophilic conditions, TNT was reduced from 11 190 mg/kg to 50 mg/kg. The thermophilic and mesophilic half-lives were 11.9 and 21.9 days for TNT, 17.3 and 30.1 days for RDX, and 22.8 and 42.0 days for HMX, respectively. Known nitroaromatic transformation products increased in concentration over the first several weeks of the test period, but decreased to low concentrations thereafter.