A sequential zero valent iron and aerobic biodegradation treatment system for nitrobenzene

L.S. Bell, J.F. Devlin, R.W. Gillham, Philip John Binning

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The remediation of nitroaromatic contaminated groundwater is sometimes difficult because nitroaromatic compounds are resistant to biodegradation and, when they do transform, the degradation of the products may also be incomplete. A simple nitroaromatic compound, nitrobenzene, was chosen to assess the feasibility of an in situ multi-zone treatment system at the laboratory scale. The proposed treatment system consists of a zero valent granular iron zone to reduce nitrobenzene to aniline, followed by a passive oxygen release zone for the aerobic biodegradation of the aniline daughter product using pristine aquifer material from Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden, Ontario, as an initial microbial source. In laboratory batch experiments, nitrobenzene was found to reduce quickly in the presence of granular iron forming aniline, which was not further degraded but remained partially sorbed onto the granular iron surface. Aniline was found to be readily biodegraded with little metabolic lag under aerobic conditions using the pristine aquifer material. A sequential column experiment, containing a granular iron reducing zone and an aerobic biodegradation zone, successively degraded nitrobenzene and then aniline to below detection limits (0.5 AM) without any noticeable reduction in hydraulic conductivity from biofouling, or through the formation of precipitates.
Keyword: Zero valent iron,Biodegradation,Nitrobenzene,Aniline
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Pages (from-to)201-217
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Externally publishedYes


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