A bioslurry reactor was designed and used to treat loamy clay soil polluted with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). To this end, biostimulation alone, or combined with bioaugmentation with two bacterial strains (Rhodocccus erythropolis
and Pseudomonas stuzeri
) previously isolated from the polluted site, was applied. The PAH concentrations decreased notably after 15 days in all of the treatments. The concentrations of the two- and three-ring compounds fell by >80%, and, remarkably, the four- to six-ring PAHs also showed a marked decrease (>70%). These results thus indicate the capacity of bioslurry treatments to improve, notably, the degradation yields obtained in a previous real-scale remediation carried out using biopiles. In this sense, the remarkable results for recalcitrant PAHs can be attributed to the increase pollutants’ bioavailability achieves in the slurry bioreactors. Regarding bioaugmentation, although treatment with R. erythropolis
led to a somewhat greater reduction of lighter PAHs at 15 days, the most time-effective treatment was achieved using P. stutzeri,
which led to an 84% depletion of total PAHs in only three days. The effects of microbial degradation of other organic compounds were also monitored by means of combined qualitative and quantitative gas chromatography mass spectrometry (GC–MS) tools, as was the evolution of microbial populations, which was analyzed by culture and molecular fingerprinting experiments. On the basis of our findings, bioslurry technology emerges as a rapid and operative option for the remediation of polluted sites, especially for fine soil fractions with a high load of recalcitrant pollutants.
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