Journal of environmental management

Regeneration strategies of polymers employed in ex-situ remediation of contaminated soil: Bioregeneration versus solvent extraction.

PMID 26074469


In this study we evaluated the feasibility of two regeneration strategies of contaminated polymers employed for ex-situ soil remediation in a two-step process. Soil decontamination is achieved by sorption of the pollutants on the polymer beads, which are regenerated in a subsequent step. Tested soil was contaminated with a mixture of 4-chlorophenol and pentachlorophenol, and a commercial polymer, Hytrel, has been employed for extraction. Removal efficiencies of the polymer-soil extraction are in the range of 51-97% for a contact time ≤ 24 h. Two polymer regeneration strategies, solvent extraction and biological regeneration (realized in a two-phase partitioning bioreactor), were tested and compared. Performance was assessed in terms of removal rates and efficiencies and an economic analysis based on the operating costs has been performed. Results demonstrated the feasibility of both regeneration strategies, but the bioregeneration was advantageous in that provided the biodegradation of the contaminants desorbed from the polymer. Practically complete removal for 4-chlorophenol and up to 85% biodegradation efficiency for pentachlorophenol were achieved. Instead, in the solvent extraction, a relevant production (184-831 L kg(pol)(-1)) of a highly polluted stream to be treated or disposed of is observed. The cost analysis of the two strategies showed that the bioregeneration is much more convenient with operating costs of ∼12 €/kg(pol) i.e. more than one order of magnitude lower in comparison to ∼233 €/kg(pol) of the solvent extraction.