Laboratory studies of the remediation of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon contaminated soil by in-vessel composting

Blanca Antizar Ladislao, Joseph Lopez-Real, Angus J Beck

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The biodegradation of 16 polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), listed as priority pollutants by the USEPA, present in a coal-tar-contaminated soil from a former manufactured gas plant site was investigated using laboratory-scale in-vessel composting reactors to determine the suitability of this approach as a bioremediation technology. Preliminary investigations were conducted over 16 weeks to determine the optimum soil composting temperature (38, 55 and 70 degrees C). Three tests were performed; firstly, soil was composted with green-waste, with a moisture content of 60%. Secondly, microbial activity was HgCl2-inhibited in the soil green-waste mixture with a moisture content of 60%, to evaluate abiotic losses, while in the third experiment only soil was incubated at the three different temperatures. PAHs and microbial populations were monitored. PAHs were lost from all treatments with 38 degrees C being the optimum temperature for both PAH removal and microbial activity. Calculated activation energy values (E(a)) for total PAHs suggested that the main loss mechanism in the soil-green waste reactors was biological, whereas in the soil reactors it was chemical. Total PAH losses in the soil-green waste composting mixtures were by pseudo-first order kinetics at 38 degrees C (k = 0.013 day(-1), R2 = 0.95), 55 degrees C (k = 0.010 day(-1), R2 = 0.76) and at 70 degrees C (k = 0.009 day(-1), R2 = 0.73).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-289
Number of pages9
JournalWaste Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Bacteria
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Bioreactors
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Polycyclic Hydrocarbons, Aromatic
  • Population Dynamics
  • Soil Pollutants
  • Temperature


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