, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 337–350 | Cite as

Development of an attached-growth process for the on-site bioremediation of an aquifer polluted by chlorinated solvents

  • Dario Frascari
  • Giacomo Bucchi
  • Francesco Doria
  • Antonella Rosato
  • Nasrin Tavanaie
  • Raffaele Salviulo
  • Roberta Ciavarelli
  • Davide Pinelli
  • Serena Fraraccio
  • Giulio Zanaroli
  • Fabio Fava
Original Article


A procedure for the design of an aerobic cometabolic process for the on-site degradation of chlorinated solvents in a packed bed reactor was developed using groundwater from an aquifer contaminated by trichloroethylene (TCE) and 1,1,2,2-tetrachloroethane (TeCA). The work led to the selection of butane among five tested growth substrates, and to the development and characterization from the site’s indigenous biomass of a suspended-cell consortium capable to degrade TCE (first order constant: 96 L g protein –1  day–1 at 30 °C and 4.3 L g protein –1  day–1 at 15 °C) with a 90 % mineralization of the organic chlorine. The consortium immobilization had strong effects on the butane and TCE degradation rates. The microbial community structure was slightly changed by a temperature shift from 30 to 15 °C, but remarkably affected by biomass adhesion. Given the higher TCE normalized degradation rate (0.59 day–1 at 15 °C) and attached biomass concentration (0.13 gprotein L bioreactor –1 at 15 °C) attained, the porous ceramic carrier Biomax was selected as the best option for the packed bed reactor process. The low TeCA degradation rate exhibited by the developed consortium suggested the inclusion of a chemical pre-treatment based on the TeCA to TCE conversion via β-elimination, a very fast reaction at alkaline pH. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this represents the first attempt to develop a procedure for the development of a packed bed reactor process for the aerobic cometabolism of chlorinated solvents.


Aerobic cometabolism Chlorinated solvents Biofilm Packed bed reactor Microbial community analysis 

List of symbols


Aqueous phase concentration of compound i at the beginning of a given pulse (mgi L–1)

k1,i,15 or k1,i,30

First order constant of net biodegradation of compound i at 15 or 30 °C, obtained by dividing r i /c i by the biomass concentrations evaluated at the beginning of the pulse (L day–1 g protein –1 )

k1,i,15,abio or k1,i,30,abio

First order constant of abiotic conversion of compound i, at 15 or 30 °C (day–1)

ri,15 or ri,30

Net initial biodegradation rate of compound i in a given pulse at 15 or 30 °C, obtained by subtracting the abiotic contribution (k 1,i,abio ·c i ) to the overall depletion rate (mgi L–1 day–1)

ri,15/ci or ri,30/ci

Ratio of the net initial biodegradation rate of compound i in a given pulse (at 15 or 30 °C) to the aqueous phase concentration of i at the beginning of the pulse (day–1)



Project co-funding by the European Commission under Grant Agreement No. 265946 (Minotaurus Project, 7th FP) is acknowledged. The authors acknowledge Dr. Marco Gabriele of Askoll Due for kindly supplying the Biomax biofilm carriers.

Supplementary material

10532_2013_9664_MOESM1_ESM.doc (30 kb)
Details relative to the operation of the batch microcosms; protocols relative to the determination of attached biomass and to the extraction of metagenomic DNA from attached cell cultures. (DOC 30 kb)
10532_2013_9664_MOESM2_ESM.doc (42 kb)
Composition of the synthetic groundwaters (DOC 42 kb)
10532_2013_9664_MOESM3_ESM.doc (150 kb)
TeCA, TCE and TCE + TeCA total μmoles versus time in a sterile control vial (pH 10, 30 °C) during a representative TeCA pulse; clustering analysis (UPGAMA algorithm) of the DGGE profiles generated by the consortia enriched on different substrates; butane and TCE first order constant obtained in the standard kinetic test applied to the 15 °C vials of microcosm group 1b; theoretical profiles of TeCA and pH versus retention time relative to the chemical conversion of TeCA into TCE through β-elimination at 15 °C in a tubular reactor. (DOC 150 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dario Frascari
    • 1
  • Giacomo Bucchi
    • 1
  • Francesco Doria
    • 1
  • Antonella Rosato
    • 1
  • Nasrin Tavanaie
    • 1
  • Raffaele Salviulo
    • 1
  • Roberta Ciavarelli
    • 1
  • Davide Pinelli
    • 1
  • Serena Fraraccio
    • 1
  • Giulio Zanaroli
    • 1
  • Fabio Fava
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Civil, Chemical, Environmental and Materials EngineeringUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

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