A full scale funnel-and-gate biobarrier has been developed for the removal of tar oil pollutants at an abandoned tar factory site near the city of Offenbach, Germany. Laboratory and on-site column studies were done to determine the operation parameters for microbiological clean-up of the groundwater polluted with 12,000 μg/L mono- aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzene and the xylenes, 4,800 μg/L polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as naphthalene and acenaphthene, and 4,700 μg/L heterocyclic aromatic hydrocarbons such as benzofuran and benzothiophene. In the laboratory study, a residence time of approx. 70 h proved to be sufficient for aerobic pollutant biodegradation. Up to 180 mg/L H2O2 were added and did not lead to any toxic effects to the degrading bacteria. The feasibility of the concept was confirmed in an on-site pilot study performed with a sedimentation tank (removal of ferric iron) and two bioreactors. In the bioreactors, >99.3% of the pollutants were degraded. Biodegradation activity corresponded to a significant increase in numbers of pollutant degrading bacteria. In the bioreactors, a fast dissociation of H2O2 was observed resulting in losses of oxygen and temporary gas clogging. Therefore, a repeated addition of moderate concentrations of H2O2 proved to be more favourable than the addition of high concentrations at a single dosing port. The full scale biobarrier consists of three separated bioreactors thus enabling extended control and access to the reactors. The operation of the funnel-and-gate biobarrier started in April 2007, and represents the first biological permeable reactive barrier with extended control (EC-PRB) in Germany.

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