Acidification due to microbial dechlorination of trichloroethene (TCE) can limit the bio-enhanced dissolution of TCE dense non-aqueous phase liquid (DNAPL). This study related the dissolution enhancement of a TCE DNAPL to the pH buffer capacity of the medium and the type of electron donor used. In batch systems, dechlorination was optimal at pH7.1-7.5, but was completely inhibited below pH6.2. In addition, dechlorination in batch systems led to a smaller pH decrease at an increasing pH buffer capacity or with the use of formate instead of lactate as electron donor. Subsequently, bio-enhanced TCE DNAPL dissolution was quantified in diffusion-cells with a 5.5 cm central sand layer, separating a TCE DNAPL layer from an aqueous top layer. Three different pH buffer capacities (2.9 mM-17.9 mM MOPS) and lactate or formate as electron donor were applied. In the lactate fed diffusion-cells, the DNAPL dissolution enhancement factor increased from 1.5 to 2.2 with an increase of the pH buffer capacity. In contrast, in the formate fed diffusion-cells, the DNAPL dissolution enhancement factor (2.4±0.3) was unaffected by the pH buffer capacity. Measurement of the pore water pH confirmed that the pH decreased less with an increased pH buffer capacity or with formate instead of lactate as electron donor. These results suggest that the significant impact of acidification on bio-enhanced DNAPL dissolution can be overcome by the amendment of a pH buffer or by applying a non acidifying electron donor like formate.
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