Surfactant-Enhanced biodegradation of a PAH in soil slurry reactors

Derick G. Brown, Saumyen Guha, Peter R. Jaffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


This study focuses on finding operational regimes for surfactant-enhanced biodegradation. Biodegradation of phenanthrene as a model polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) was studied in soil slurry reactors in the presence and absence of a Triton N-101 surfactant solution. Results showed that the presence of surfactant slowed the initial biodegradation rate of phenanthrene, but increased the total mass of phenanthrene degraded over a four day period by 30%. A mathematical model was developed which simulates the biodegradation of low solubility hydrocarbons in the presence of soils and surfactants by accounting for the hydrocarbon bioavailability in different phases of the system. The model was able to simulate the experimental results using parameters and rate coefficients that were obtained through independent experiments. The model was used to investigate the effect of different operating conditions on the overall biodegradation of phenanthrene. Simulation results showed that there is a system-specific optimum surfactant concentration range, beyond which bioremediation is hindered. The results also indicate that for a given system, the optimal surfactant concentration can be determined from simple sorption and solubility equilibrium experiments. Finally, a metric is presented for determining the potential effectiveness of surfactant-enhanced bioremediation based on the Monod and bioavailability parameters for a given system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-283
Number of pages15
JournalBioremediation Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science


  • Biodegradation
  • Model
  • PAH
  • Phenanthrene
  • Soil slurry
  • Surfactant
  • Triton N-101


Dive into the research topics of 'Surfactant-Enhanced biodegradation of a PAH in soil slurry reactors'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this