Bioremediation of soils polluted with diesel oil is one of the methods already applied on a large scale. However, several questions remain open surrounding the operative conditions and biological strategies to be adopted to optimize the removal efficiency. This study aimed to investigate the environmental factors that influence geophysical properties in soil polluted with diesel oils, in particular, during the biodegradation of this contaminant by an indigenous microbial population. With this aim, aerobic degradation was performed in soil column microcosms with a high concentration of diesel oil (75 g kg−1
of soil); the dielectric permittivity and electrical conductivity were measured. In one of the microcosms, the addition of glucose was also tested. Biostimulation was performed with a Mineral Salt Medium for Bacteria. The sensitivity of the dielectric permittivity versus temperature was analyzed. A theoretical approach was adopted to estimate the changes in the bulk dielectric permittivity of a mixture of sandy soil-water-oil-gas, according to the variations in the oil content. The sensitivity of the dielectric permittivity to the temperature effects was analyzed. The results show that (1) biostimulation can give good removal efficiency; (2) the addition of glucose as a primary carbon source does not improve the diesel oil removal; (3) a limited amount of diesel oil was removed by adsorption and volatilization effects; and (4) the diesel oil efficiency removal was in the order of 70% after 200 days, with different removal percentages for oil components; the best results were obtained for molecules with a low retention time. This study is preparatory to the adoption of geophysical methods to monitor the biological process on a larger scale. Altogether, these results will be useful to apply the process on a larger scale, where geophysical methods will be adopted for monitoring.
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