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Water Research
Vol. 39, No: 18, 2005, Pages: 4363 - 74

Biological and chemical interactions with U(VI) during anaerobic enrichment in the presence of iron oxide coated quartz

Lee BD, Walton MR, Megio JL

Biological Sciences Department, Idaho National Laboratory, P. O. Box 1625, Idaho Falls, ID 83415, USA.


Microcosm experiments were performed to understand chemical and biological interactions with hexavalent uranium (U(VI)) in the presence of iron oxide bearing minerals and trichloroethylene (TCE) as a co-contaminant. Interactions of U(VI) and hydrous iron oxide moieties on the mineral oxide surfaces were studied during enrichments for dissimilatory iron reducing (DIRB) and sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB). Microbes enriched from groundwater taken from the Test Area North (TAN) site at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) were able to reduce the U(VI) in the adsorption medium as well as the iron on quartz surfaces. Early in the experiment disappearance of U(VI) from solution was a function of chemical interactions since no microbial activity was evident. Abiotic removal of U(VI) was enhanced in the presence of carbonate. As the experiment proceeded, further removal of U(VI) from solution was associated with the fermentation of lactate to propionate and acetate. During later phases of the experiment when lactate was depleted from the growth medium in the microcosm containing the DIRB enrichments, U(VI) concentrations in the solution phase increased until additional lactate was added. When additional lactate was added and fermentation proceeded, U(VI) concentrations in the liquid phase again returned to near zero. Similar results were shown for the SRB enrichment but lower uranium concentrations were seen in the liquid phase, while in the enrichment with carbonate a similar increase in uranium concentration was not seen. Chemical and biological interactions appear to be important on the mobilization/immobilization of U(VI) in an iron oxide system when TCE is present as a co-contaminant. Interestingly, TCE present in the microcosm experiments was not dechlorinated which was probably an effect of redox conditions that were unsuitable for reductive dechlorination by the microbial culture tested.

Keywords:iron oxide bearing minerals and trichloroethylene,microcosm containing the DIRB enrichments,enrichments for dissimilatory iron reducing.


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