Push-pull tests evaluating in situ aerobic cometabolism of ethylene, propylene, and cis-1,2-dichloroethylene.

Research paper by Young Y Kim, Jonathan D JD Istok, Lewis L Semprini

Indexed on: 22 Nov '05Published on: 22 Nov '05Published in: Journal of Contaminant Hydrology


In situ aerobic cometabolic transformations of ethylene, propylene, and cis-1,2-dichloroethylene (c-DCE), by microorganisms stimulated on propane, were examined in groundwater contaminated with c-DCE and trichloroethylene (TCE). In situ measurements were performed by conducting field push-pull tests, which consisted of injecting site groundwater amended with a bromide tracer and combinations of propane, dissolved oxygen (DO), nitrate, ethylene, propylene, c-DCE, and TCE into existing monitoring wells and sampling the same wells over time. Mass balance and transformation rate calculations were performed after adjusting for dilution losses using measured tracer concentrations. Initial rates of propane utilization were very low; rates increased substantially following sequential additions of propane and DO. Evidence that propane and DO additions had stimulated organisms expressing a propane monoxygenase enzyme system and that had the capability to transform chlorinated aliphatic hydrocarbons (CAHs) included: (1) the transformation of injected ethylene and propylene to the cometabolic byproducts ethylene oxide and propylene oxide, (2) the transformation of c-DCE, and (3) the inhibition of these transformations in the presence of coinjected acetylene, a known monoxygenase mechanism-based inactivator. These results suggest that a series of push-pull tests performed with nontoxic chemical probes can be useful for detecting and monitoring in situ aerobic cometabolism of CAHs.