Long-term performance of permeable reactive barriers using zero-valent iron: geochemical and microbiological effects.

Ground water

PubMedID: 12873012

Wilkin RT, Puls RW, Sewell GW. Long-term performance of permeable reactive barriers using zero-valent iron: geochemical and microbiological effects. Ground Water. 2003;41(4):493-503.
Geochemical and microbiological factors that control long-term performance of subsurface permeable reactive barriers were evaluated at the Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and the Denver Federal Center, Colorado, sites. These ground water treatment systems use zero-valent iron filings (Peerless Metal Powders Inc.) to intercept and remediate chlorinated hydrocarbon compounds at the Denver Federal Center (funnel-and-gate system) and overlapping plumes of hexavalent chromium and chlorinated hydrocarbons at Elizabeth City (continuous wall system). Zero-valent iron at both sites is a long-term sink for carbon, sulfur, calcium, silicon, nitrogen, and magnesium. After about four years of operation, the average rates of inorganic carbon (IC) and sulfur (S) accumulation are 0.09 and 0.02 kg/m2/year, respectively, at Elizabeth City where upgradient waters contain <400 mg/L of total dissolved solids (TDS). At the Denver Federal Center site, upgradient ground water contains 1000 to 1200 mg/L TDS and rates of IC and S accumulation are as high as 2.16 and 0.80 kg/m2/year, respectively. At both sites, consistent patterns of spatially variable mineral precipitation and microbial activity are observed. Mineral precipitates and microbial biomass accumulate the fastest near the upgradient aquifer-Fe0 interface. Maximum net reductions in porosity due to the accumulation of sulfur and inorganic carbon precipitates range from 0.032 at Elizabeth City to 0.062 at the Denver Federal Center (gate 2) after about four years. Although pore space has been lost due the accumulation of authigenic components, neither site shows evidence of pervasive pore clogging after four years of operation.