Sand amendment enhances bioelectrochemical remediation of petroleum hydrocarbon contaminated soil

Xiaojing Li, Xin Wang, Zhiyong Ren, Yueyong Zhang, Nan Li, Qixing Zhou

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

106 Scopus citations


Bioelectrochemical system is an emerging technology for the remediation of soils contaminated by petroleum hydrocarbons. However, performance of such systems can be limited by the inefficient mass transport in soil. Here we report a new method of sand amendment, which significantly increases both oxygen and proton transports, resulting to increased soil porosity (from 44.5% to 51.3%), decreased Ohmic resistance (by 46%), and increased charge output (from 2.5 to 3.5 C g-1 soil). The degradation rates of petroleum hydrocarbons increased by up to 268% in 135 d. The degradation of n-alkanes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons with high molecular weight was accelerated, and denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis showed that the microbial community close to the air-cathode was substantially stimulated by the induced current, especially the hydrocarbon degrading bacteria Alcanivorax. The bioelectrochemical stimulation imposed a selective pressure on the microbial community of anodes, including that far from the cathode. These results suggested that sand amendment can be an effective approach for soil conditioning that will enhances the bioelectrochemical removal of hydrocarbons in contaminated soils.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-70
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Dec 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry


  • Bioelectrochemical remediation
  • Hydrocarbon contaminated soils
  • Internal resistance
  • Mass transport
  • Microbial community


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