BioElEctrochemical RemediAtion of Groundwater plumEs

Groundwater are highly vulnerable resources and heavy metals (e.g. chromium), chlorinated solvents and petroleum hydrocarbons are relevant contaminants. In-situ remediation technologies allow the treatment of contaminated groundwater without removing it and are usually cheaper and than pump and treat systems. Bioremediation is gaining more interest, for its general sustainability in terms of environmental impact and costs. This technology exploits the ability of several microorganisms to remove contaminants by oxidation reactions (i.e. for petroleum hydrocarbons) or by reduction reactions (i.e. for metals and chlorinated solvents). The growth and metabolism of microorganisms that are involved in the process are stimulated by adding electron donors/acceptors. In bioelectrochemical systems (BES) electrodes are used as solid electron donors/acceptors and an electrical signal is generated during the degradation of the contaminants. A better control of the reactions, an high removal efficiency and low operational costs may be some of the advantages of this technology. In the past years the academic research focused on the study of bioelectrochemical processes in lab-scale reactors. New challenges are represented by the scale-up of the technology and by fundamental investigations of the process when multiple contaminants have to be treated  simultaneously.

The research is supported by Fondazione Cariplo in the frame work of the project BioElEctrochemical RemediAtion of Groundwater plumes (BEvERAGE) and  involves:

  • Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences – University of Milano-Bicocca;
  • Politecnico di Milano, DICA Sez. Ambientale;
  • Department of Chemistry, Sapienza University of Rome;
  • Water Research Institute (IRSA), National Research Council (CNR)