Assessing the fate and behavior of chlorinated ethenes in groundwater using carbon-chlorine isotope analysis.
Enhancing bioremediation processes.
Alice attended the National Graduate School of Engineering Chemistry of Lille and graduated as an engineer in Chemistry and Environment, equivalent to a master degree, in September 2010. During her education, she worked on the effect of polychaetes on the re-establishment of a marine eelgrass at the Institute of Biology at the University of Odense, Denmark. Her master project, completed in collaboration with the University of Stavanger, Norway, focused on the skin irritation potential and bioavailability of 5 amino-acid based surfactants. After graduating, she worked at the French cosmetics company l'Oréal for one year as a project engineer in a research collaboration between France and Japan.
Due to extensive industrial activities between 1940 and 1970, pollution with chlorinated hydrocarbons occurred at a large number of sites in Switzerland, causing significant groundwater contamination. Monitoring of contaminants as well as further remediation is therefore needed. The Federal Office for the Environment launched the ChloroNet Project in 2007, aimed at tackling this issue.
This research will support the ChloroNet Project through the investigation of chlorinated solvent behaviour in groundwater. More specifically, the behaviour of contaminant plume in aquifers as well as their natural attenuation will be investigated. Specific emphasis will be given to the development of compound-specific isotope analysis (CSIA) to evaluate the origin and fate of chlorinated hydrocarbons at contaminated sites. The results are expected to lead to a better understanding of contaminated sites and thus to an improvement in the design and implementation of remediation.
Assessing sustainable approaches to contaminated land remediation.
Socio-economic and sustainability aspects of in situ remediation.
My MSc in Environment and Resource Management at the Vrije University, Amsterdam, specialized in Environmental Studies. The theoretical component of the degree focused on environmental economics, environmental valuation and environmental policy. The practical component of the degree involved the application of policy and decision support systems in developing solutions to environmental problems. My master’s thesis research topic involved applying the REC decision support framework to possible remediation strategies for a particular case study of a site contaminated with inert compounds. These compounds were spilled in solvent form and had formed DNAPL source zones in highly impermeable soil layers. The ADVOCATE project is therefore a natural progression in this research area. I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Cape Town and then relocated to Amsterdam where I worked for two large information technology based firms.
The two subjects that I am most passionate about are contaminated land remediation and sustainable land management. The ADVOCATE project and my particular work package, provide for the perfect opportunity to merge these two interests in developing a framework that can facilitate transparent and socially equitable decision making in land restoration. I am currently evaluating sustainability assessment practices in soil and groundwater remediation and I hope to add to the existing knowledge base by developing a sustainability assessment framework that can account for different degrees of contaminant load removal, according to specific land re-use requirements.
Beyond the obvious financial implications of land restoration, there are also costs borne by society, which are not immediately reflected in financial terms. These costs are due to the natural resources consumed in the process of remediation. These depleted resources are therefore no longer available to society. This raises some interesting questions as to how these costs can be accounted for. A sustainability assessment would allow these environmental costs to be measured against the net benefits of various remediation options.
The objective of this work package is to enrich the technical knowledge generated through the other work packages in the ADVOCATE project, by broadening the overall scope of the project to include the socio-economic implications of in situ remediation. Developing a decision framework that includes primary and secondary environmental impacts, as decision criteria, would allow stakeholders of contaminated sites to make more informed decisions as to the most appropriate courses of remedial action.
Microbial dynamics and biodegradation at the bioreactive fringe of contaminant plumes in groundwater.
Performance assessment of natural attenuation at field-scale.
Lukasz graduated with an MSc Eng. in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Lodz (Poland). During his studies he completed IAESTE internships in organic chemistry at the University of St Andrews (Scotland) and to the Manipal Institute of Technology (India). He then went on to obtain an MSc in Technical Microbiology and subsequently undertook studies on microbially influenced corrosion risk assessment at the University of Oklahoma (USA) and University of Portsmouth (UK).
Lukasz Cieslak is a member of the following scientific societies:
The research explores interactions between microorganisms in aquifers which use a range of dissolved and mineral-based oxidants to biodegrade organic contaminants via oxidation-reduction (redox) processes. This creates a sequence of redox zones in contaminated groundwater, which represent different terminal electron accepting processes (TEAP), such as aerobic respiration, denitrification, sulphate-reduction, manganese/iron-reduction and methanogenesis. These redox zones provide an ecological niche for different microorganisms within the in situ microbial community, which creates significant spatial variation in contaminant biodegradation potential in plumes. Most biodegradation in contaminant plumes occurs in a narrow zone at the interface with uncontaminated groundwater, termed the bioreactive fringe.
This research will explore the environmental and microbiological controls on biodegradation potential at the bioreactive fringe of contaminant plumes, focusing on the dynamics of microbiological community development, structure and metabolic function. It will establish the factors that lead to microbial succession and diversity in the microorganisms at the fringe of plumes, considering environmental pressures (e.g. organic contaminant type, concentration and oxidant availability) and the molecular controls on this behaviour.
Integrated approach for contaminant fluxes assessment in the heterogeneous soil-groundwater continuum using geophysical, tracer and passive sampling techniques.
Linking soil and vadose zone processes to in situ remediation of groundwater.
The research will explore the links between soil and vadose zone processes for in situ remediation of groundwater. Risk analysis and mitigation programmes for polluted soil and groundwater are based on a conceptual and quantitative understanding of pollutant fate and transport in the soil- groundwater continuum and on the characterization of pollutants at the site-scale. Quantitative modelling is affected significantly by spatial and temporal variability in the physical, chemical and biological properties of soil and aquifers and the variety of reactive processes therein. It is therefore important to design and validate approaches which allow the fate and transport of pollutants to be assessed, considering the overlapping effects of these controls, in the whole soil – subsoil –groundwater continuum.
This aim is to develop, optimise and validate an efficient and robust procedure to assess pollutant transport from the pollution site to the groundwater body. Pollutant fluxes will be characterized, based on an upgradient–downgradient mass-balance approach, across representative control planes located in soil and in groundwater. The project focuses on the design of control planes for soil and groundwater assessment, and will integrate passive samplers, reactive tracers and geophysical techniques to obtain appropriate estimates of the flow field and attenuation processes at the scale of the pollution site. Geophysical, sampling and field tracer techniques will be combined with space-time modelling of pollutant transport (stochastic and deterministic), calibrated with both the direct (sampling) and indirect (geophysics) data to verify understanding of the system and validate the approach.
Stochastic modeling of water quantity and management at the catchment scale
Developing in situ treatment strategies for mixed contaminants
My research is focused on catchment scale water distribution and management as well as studying how streamflow regimes control various morphological and ecohydrological processes in a riverine system, in particular, riparian vegetation dynamics.
In situ remediation of contaminated sites using permeable reactive multi barriers (PRmB) systems
In situ remediation of contaminated sites
The research will use laboratory, field and modelling studies to identify the most effective strategy for in situ sustainable remediation of groundwater contaminated with mixed organic/inorganic compounds using permeable reactive multi-barrier (PRmB) systems. This analysis will focus on finding the most effective active materials for the design of a sequenced PRmB at the waterworks of Nowa Dęba (South-East Poland). The results will be interpreted at the pilot on-site installation and modelling tools will be used to validate conceptual models of contaminant migration and the performance of the PRmB system.
Development of microbial fuel cells for enhanced in situ bioremediation of soil and groundwater
Enhancing bioremediation processes
Petra completed an MSc at the Department of Fermentation Chemistry and Bioengineering at the Institute of Chemical Technology in Prague, Czech Republic. She was twice the winner of the Student Science Conference at this department. Her diploma thesis focused on the effect of different surfactants on bioremediation and biofilm formation of Rhodococcus erythropolis.
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) are considered to be one of the future alternative sources of energy, created by the activity of in situ microorganisms. With the help of microorganisms chemical energy from the metabolism of organic compounds is directly transferred to the generation of an electrical current. MFCs can also enhance in situ bioremediation of contaminated sites by providing a suitable electron acceptor to microorganisms for biodegradation of organic compounds. In principle, the electrical current generated can be coupled with the enhanced supply of electron acceptors to sustain biodegradation. However, only a few pilot scale MFC applications have been established and the fundamental science supporting the use of this concept is currently underdeveloped.
The aim is to develop the scientific basis underpinning the development of MFCs for in situ bioremediation of contaminated soil and groundwater. This will involve research into the fundamental processes which control the operation, performance and design of MFCs, using lab-scale experiments of model and natural systems. It will deduce the critical factors that affect the efficiency of MFCs for biodegradation of representative organic contaminants over a range of conditions, and develop design criteria for pilot-scale tests.
In situ sustainable remediation of groundwater contaminated with mixed organic/inorganic compounds using permeable reactive multi-barrier (PRmB) systems.
Developing in situ treatment strategies for mixed contaminants using sequenced reactive biobarriers
Franklin holds a BSc in Agriculture (Soil Science major) from the University of Ghana and an MSc in Geosciences (Environmental Geology and Geohazards) from the University of Oslo. Prior to his graduate studies, he worked as a teaching and research assistant at the Department of Soil Science, University of Ghana where he assisted academic staff in their duties. His main research interest is in soil and groundwater remediation.
The research will use laboratory, field and modelling studies to identify the most effective strategy for in situ sustainable remediation of groundwater contaminated with mixed organic/inorganic compounds using permeable reactive multi-barrier (PRmB) systems. This analysis will focus on the most effective active materials and hydraulic performance of a PRmB installed at a field test site in Tomaszów Mazowiecki (central Poland) and additional field sites, in close cooperation with other project partners from Poland (AGH), Germany (UFZ) and Switzerland (Eawag). The results will be interpreted at the pilot on-site installation, and modelling tools will be used to validate conceptual models of contaminant migration and the performance of the PRmB system.
Water flow, contaminant transport and attenuation processes in the hyporheic zone considering spatial and temporal variability and uncertainty.
Groundwater-surface water interactions and in-situ remediation
My research focuses on the study of water flow and contaminant transport processes in the hyporheic zone (HZ). This zone comprises the streambed and area adjacent to it and is characterized by mixing of groundwater and surface water. The mixing behavior determines biogeochemical processes relevant for the attenuation of nutrients and contaminants. In turn, the mixing behavior depends mainly on the predominant parameters defining groundwater-surface water interactions and biological reactions. Although these parameters have been and are the focus of many scientific studies further research regarding their interconnection under the premise of spatial and temporal variability is necessary.
My research is divided into five parts:
Influence of surface water - groundwater interactions along a river reach on water quality.
Groundwater-surface water interactions and in-situ remediation
My research topic will examine the effects of water quality on the groundwater –surface water interface. The River Thur catchment in the canton of Thurgau in Switzerland is the study area. The water quality along the entire river reach (with the corresponding ground water monitoring wells) will be analyzed with regard to the corresponding land use and a comparison made with the water quality in the restored river section of the river. The restored river section has been heavily monitored as a part of the RECORD project and this data will be vital for the present work, to study the impact of river restoration on the water quality of the surface and groundwater in the study area.
Microbial nitrogen transformation in horizontal subsurface flow constructed wetlands for the treatment of contaminated groundwater.
Developing in situ treatment strategies for mixed contaminants
Oksana graduated with an MSc in Biochemistry from Dnipropetrovs'k National University by Oles' Gonchar, Ukraine. During her study she trained in the Department of Enzyme Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Palladin Institute of Biochemistry of the NAS in Ukraine. Her diploma thesis focused on "Nanoliposomes preparation with surface lipids of plants". She subsequently worked as a teacher of human anatomy in Dnipropetrovs'k State Medical academy, Ukraine for two years.
This research explores the role of aerobic and anaerobic microbial processes for the removal of ammonium from contaminated groundwater in constructed wetlands (CWs) downstream of the chemical industrial area in Leuna, Germany. In vertical down flow and horizontal subsurface flow CWs aerobic conditions usually prevail and nitrate accumulates in the water. However in horizontal subsurface flow (HSSF) CWs oxygen is limited and denitrification is favoured, preventing the accumulation of nitrite or nitrate and completely removing nitrogen from the water. In these HSSF-CWs anaerobic ammonium oxidation (anammox) may play an important role in nitrogen removal. However, interactions between aerobic and anaerobic ammonium oxidation processes in CWs have not been explored. The importance of the anammox process for nitrogen removal is generally accepted, but the processes in HSSF-CWs are poorly understood.
This research will combine measurements of different physico-chemical parameters, natural abundance and tracer-based stable isotope analysis of nitrogen species and molecular-biological techniques to interpret the relevant processes, pathways and microbiological interactions that control the fate of nitrogen in HSSF-CWs. The experiments and monitoring will be done in laboratory-scale model wetlands with artificial wastewater and in pilot-scale CWs in Leuna, treating groundwater contaminated from the nearby chemical industry. The results will help bioengineers to develop new approaches to improve and optimize ammonium removal in CWs.
Knowledge transfer and outreach.
Network knowledge transfer.
Ruth has a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Extremadura and MSc in Chemical Science (wet oxidation of PAH-contaminated soils) from the same university. Her doctoral thesis focused in more detail on the remediation of PAH-contaminated soil. She also collaborated with the Tampere University of Technology (Finland) as an exchange PhD student, to investigate at pilot scale the impacts of changing the operational parameters of in situ chemical oxidation (ISCO) on removal of aged PAHs from soil. Prior to this Fellowship she was involved in developing the project of the Campus of International Excellence for the Efficient Management of Natural Hydrological Resources at the University of Extremadura. This included setting up efficient mechanisms for the transfer of scientific knowledge, promoting creativity and a spirit of entrepreneurship among all those involved in the campus, and promoting and managing opportunities for R&D projects.
As the Knowledge Transfer and Outreach Manager for the ADVOCATE project, Ruth’s role is to implement an effective communication strategy within the network and beyond. The aim is to share knowledge between the partners, fellows and external parties, to develop the research dissemination and knowledge transfer activities which promote the fellows, research outputs and impact from the project, and to engage the public, industry groups and other interested parties in the science and technology innovation that is developed by the network. These activities will be coordinated and delivered within the framework of CL:AIRE and include a variety of communication and dissemination pathways, such as newsletters, technical bulletins, conference presentations at workshops, summer schools, national and international meetings, as well as web-based social media.
Quantifying the importance of in situ nitrogen cycling for the remediation of contaminated groundwater megasites
Developing in situ treatment strategies for mixed contaminants Socio-economic and sustainability aspects of in situ remediation
PhD, Lincoln University, 2014
MSc, University of Aberdeen, 2008
BA, Wellesley College, 2006
I'm a biogeochemist working on developing better ways of measuring where water pollution comes from, and how long it's going to stick around for. In more technical terms, I use light stable isotopes to improve our understanding of the fate and transport of key nutrients across biomes, landscapes, and scales. Projects I've run range from measuring the ecological recovery of urban rivers after an earthquake, identifying how rice farmers can manage their fields to maximise nutrient retention/ minimise pollution, developing methods for calculating how New Zealand dairy farms impact water health, and assessing how natural 'clean up' of groundwater pollution in historic industrial sites can be strengthened. I prioritise work that cuts across disciplines, cultures, and biomes, and have carried out projects in five countries spanning four continents, and collaborate with researchers from around the world. My goal is to continue developing cutting-edge scientific tools capable of answering questions of fundamental human importance.
Within the ADVOCATE network, I am developing 'isoflux' type models to improve estimations of nitrogen loss pathways and rates within complex contaminated aquifers. This work includes collaborations with Uwe Kappelmeyer at the UFZ's Environmental Biotechnology Dept and with Evgenia Ryabenko at Helmholtz Zentrum Munich, in order to provide molecular corroboration/ calibration of these new stable isotope based indicators. Some more information on the research can be found in this recent conference abstract: Wells NS, Knöller K (Apr. 2014). Constraining nitrogen cycling hotspots in contaminated aquifers European Geophysical Union General Assembly (Vienna, Austria) http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2014EGUGA..1611785W
Organised a summer school for the ADVOCATE, TIMBRE, and LIAISE European Union research networks on, “Building interdisciplinary tools for long-term contaminated site management” that brought together practitioners and postgraduate students from 10 countries.
Modeling the transport and natural attenuation of multiple contaminants in groundwater.
Performance assessment of natural attenuation at field-scale (WP7).
Vivien earned a PhD in hydrogeology from Université Montpellier 2, France. He worked under the supervision of Pr. S. Pistre in the HydroSciences laboratory (http://www.hydrosciences.org). Vivien's research topic focused on modelling groundwater flow in karst aquifers with a hybrid approach (continuum combined with discrete feature) and on the development of a new methodology to map in situ drowned karst conduits. Before his PhD work, Vivien received an MSc (2010) in research in water sciences and a BSc (2008) in environmental science (water Sc and geology maj.) from Université Montpellier 2.
In the framework of the Advocate project, a groundwater sampling campaign was conducted on a contaminated industrial site of Belgium. Vivien will work on the results of different chemical analyses that were performed by the partners of the Advocate project (such as UFZ Helmholtz Center, UNINE, ULg, and others). Vivien's work will focus more specifically on 1) the assessment and characterization of the source and 2) on the identification of potential natural attenuation of the groundwater contaminants (such as cyanide, BTEX, nitrates and others). Completed by in situ tracer experiments, the results obtained with the hydrochemical dataset will lead to an improved conceptual model of the contaminant evolution. Finally, Vivien's research should allow to build a first numerical model in order to simulate the future evolution of the groundwater contaminants. This would help to estimate the impact and risks related to a regional contamination of groundwater downgradient the industrial site.
Field-scale reactive tracer experiments for performance assessment of natural attenuation of groundwater pollution.
Performance assessment of natural attenuation at field-scale.
This research contributes to the development of tools and methods for optimal monitoring and performance assessment of natural attenuation processes for common organic and inorganic contaminants in groundwater. These range from contaminant dispersion and mixing using non-reactive tracers, to physical and chemical retardation and transformation mechanisms using reactive tracers as surrogates of common contaminants. The aim is to develop an improved conceptual model of the spatial and temporal variation in potential for contaminant attenuation in aquifers, to support management decisions on the implementation of natural attenuation in groundwater.
The research focuses on characterization which leads to new conceptual ways of modelling that account for the properties of, and interactions between, selected reactive tracers and soil/aquifer materials, and on optimized single and multiple-well tracer techniques. Monitoring techniques include geophysics, to target specific processes, and tracers with a greater spatial coverage. For example, field spectral induced polarization allows tracers or contaminants, which only affect the pore fluid (salinity) and therefore impact bulk resistivity, to be differentiated from those which also affect the grain-fluid interface (oils). Geophysics can also deduce the biodegradation of organic contaminants according to their physical properties, as modified by microbial processes. These changes vary spatially because the processes are controlled by the spatial distribution of the contaminants and the physico-chemical properties of the environment. Experiments will be undertaken at the laboratory-scale, using a model aquifer, and at the field-scale on a contaminated site.