How to Bioremediate Contaminated Soils Using Bioaugmentation

Many substances known to have toxic properties have been introduced into the environment through human activity.

These substances range in degree of toxicity and danger to human health. Many of these substances either immediately or ultimately come in contact with and are sequestered by soil. Conventional methods to remove, reduce, or mitigate toxic substances introduced into soil or ground water via anthropogenic activities and processes include pump and treat systems, soil vapor extraction, incineration, and containment. Utility of each of these conventional methods of treatment of contaminated soil and/or water suffers from recognizable drawbacks and may involve some level of risk.

The emerging science and technology of bioremediation offers an alternative method to detoxify contaminants. Bioremediation has been demonstrated and is being used as an effective means of mitigating:

  • hydrocarbons
  • halogenated organic solvents
  • halogenated organic compounds
  • non-chlorinated pesticides and herbicides
  • nitrogen compounds
  • metals (lead, mercury, chromium)
  • radionuclides

Bioremediation technology exploits various naturally occurring mitigation processes: natural attenuation, biostimulation, and bioaugmentation. Bioremediation which occurs without human intervention other than monitoring is often called natural attenuation. This natural attenuation relies on natural conditions and behavior of soil microorganisms that are indigenous to soil. Biostimulation also utilizes indigenous microbial populations to remediate contaminated soils. Biostimulation consists of adding nutrients and other substances to soil to catalyze natural attenuation processes. Bioaugmentation involves introduction of exogenic microorganisms (sourced from outside the soil environment) capable of detoxifying a particular contaminant, sometimes employing genetically altered microorganisms

During bioremediation, microbes utilize chemical contaminants in the soil as an energy source and, through oxidation-reduction reactions, metabolize the target contaminant into useable energy for microbes. By-products (metabolites) released back into the environment are typically in a less toxic form than the parent contaminants. For example, petroleum hydrocarbons can be degraded by microorganisms in the presence of oxygen through aerobic respiration. The hydrocarbon loses electrons and is oxidized while oxygen gains electrons and is reduced. The result is formation of carbon dioxide and water. When oxygen is limited in supply or absent, as in saturated or anaerobic soils or lake sediment, anaerobic (without oxygen) respiration prevails. Generally, inorganic compounds such as nitrate, sulfate, ferric iron, manganese, or carbon dioxide serve as terminal electron acceptors to facilitate biodegradation.

MICROCAT-XBS is a synergistic blend of preselected, adapted microorganisms formulated for a broad range of bioremediation programs. It is specifically formulated for use in solving problems associated with spillage of and other forms of contamination by petroleum hydrocarbons, petrochemicals and related wastes. It is effective on crude petroleum, gasoline, and diesel fuel, machining oils, hydraulic fluids, solvents, monomers and other petroleum derivatives including chlorinated organics. MICROCAT-XBS combines preselected, adapted microbial strains with enhanced hydrocarbon degrading capability. When used on a regular basis, this combination can improve the breakdown of oily and chemical mixtures at nominal cost. MICROCAT-XBS contains a combination of aerobic and facultative anaerobic microorganisms selected from nature for their ability to break down a broad range of wastes from petroleum recovery, transportation, storage, and refining, steel making, metal forming, textile, hydrocarbon and chemical processing.

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