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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter April 2, 2013

Biodegradation of Two Nonionic Surfactants Used for In Situ Flushing of Oil-Contaminated Soils

Biologischer Abbau zweier nichtionischer Tenside aus In Situ Spülungen ölkontaminierter Verunreinigungen
  • L. G. Torres , J. L. Orantes and R. Iturbe


Surfactants used for soil in situ flushing are often synthetic monomers of nonionic type. Both ethoxylated sorbitan monoleate and nonyl-phenol have been widely reported because of their washing potential. It is necessary to investigate their aerobic biodegradability at high concentrations found after a soil in situ flushing process. The aim of this work is to show the two nonionic surfactants' biodegradation, when present in water solutions at high concentrations (400 and 800mg/l), using an aerobic consortium obtained from a conventional activated sludge system for treatment of municipal wastewater. It was demonstrated that both TW80 and Surfacpol surfactants were biodegraded (and even partially mineralised) at high concentrations, i.e., 400 and 800mg/l. It is noteworthy that Surfacpol could be biodegraded to a higher extent (about 96%) than TW80 (about 45%) in a period of 168hours. Regarding the mineralization rates, Surfacpol reached mineralization values of about 83%, whereas TW80 reached only a value of about 23%.


Zur In Situ Spülung von Verunreinigungen werden häufig synthetische Monomere als nichtionische Tenside verwendet. Über ethoxyliertes Sorbitanmonoleat und Nonylphenol wurde aufgrund ihres Waschpotentials weithin berichtet. Es ist aber notwendig ihre aerobe biologische Abbaubarkeit bei hohen Konzentrationen zu untersuchen, die nach einem in situ Spülungsprozess von Verunreinigungen gefunden werden. Das Ziel dieser Arbeit ist es, die biologische Abbaubarkeit dieser beiden nichtionischen Tenside zu zeigen, wenn sie bei hohen Konzentrationen (400 und 800mg/l) in wässrigen Lösungen enthalten sind, mittels eines aeroben Konsortiums eines konventionellen Belebtschlammsystems für die Behandlung kommunaler Abwässer. Es wird gezeigt, dass beide Tenside, TW80 und Surfacpol, bei hohen Konzentrationen, d.h. 400 und 800mg/l, biologisch abgebaut werden (und teilweise sogar mineralisiert). Bemerkenswert ist, dass Surfacpol zu einem höherem Ausmaß (ca. 96%) biologisch abgebaut werden kann als TW80 (ca. 45%), bei einer Dauer von 168 Stunden. Bei Betrachtung der Mineralisationsrate erreicht Surfacpol einen Mineralisationswert von ca. 83% während TW80 nur ca. 23% erreicht.

Luis G. Torres, Engineering Institute, National Autonomous University of Mexico, Environmental Engineering Department, Soil and Aquifers Remediation Group, P.O. Box 70-472, Coyoacan 04510 Mexico, DF, MEXICO.

Luis G. Torres (PhD). He has experience in industrial wastewaters' biological treatment, and characterization/remediation of metal and/or petroleum–contaminated soils. Currently, he has focused his interest on surfactant's application to environmental problems. His main research lines are a) surfactant-enhanced biodegradation of aged petroleum fractions in soils, b) in situ and ex situ soil washing, and c) preparation of petroleum fractions-surfactant-water emulsions, as a first step for fuel's biotreatments (e.g. biodesulfuration) d) rheology and mixing of sludges and suspensions applied to environmental problems solution.

Jose Luis Orantes. He has a Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Master degree in Environmental Engineering, both by the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México. He has expereicnce on soil-washing aspects, particulary in the determination of critical micellar concentration values, adsorption-desorption isotherms, and surfactants's removal efficiencies measurements. Currenty, he works at Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas (Chiapas, México).

Rosario Iturbe (PhD). She has a PhD on Hydraulic Engineering by UNAM. She has great experience on contaminants migration, groundwaters contamination and remediation, petroleum-contaminated soils characterization and treatment by means of physicho-chemical and biological processes (i.e. in situ and ex situ soil washing, biopiles, air soil vapor extraction, surfactant-enhanced biodegradation of aged petroleum fractions). Currently, she is a researcher and group leader of the Soil and aquifers remediation group at the Environmental Engineering Department of the Engineering Institute/UNAM.


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Received: 2006-05-31
Published Online: 2013-04-02
Published in Print: 2006-11-01

© 2006, Carl Hanser Publisher, Munich

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