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Title: Bioremediation of hydrocarbon contaminated soils and drill cuttings using composting with agricultural wastes
Authors: Davis, Davidson Dimabo
Issue Date: 2016
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: A compost-bioremediation approach was adopted in this study to explore more sustainable and economically viable methods of degrading pollutant hydrocarbons in oil-field drill cuttings and coal tar impacted soils (CTIS). The compost amendments used were agricultural waste products including grass cuttings, spent mushroom compost and straw. Laboratory-scale compost experiments were conducted to test the performance of different compost blends comprised of each contaminated medium and organic amendments in different mix ratios for 53 days. The compost mix type which produced the greatest reduction in pollutant hydrocarbon concentrations was further scaled-up and tested in an outdoor pilot scale compost treatment for 56 days. At the end of the lab-scale treatments, degradations in total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) concentrations of 85.1% and 90.6% were recorded for the drill cuttings and CTIS, compared to 36.7% and 28.4% that was achieved in the control experiments, respectively. The concentrations of total n-alkanes and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) were significantly decreased in the best performing compost mix types, however most of the 5 and 6-ring PAH compounds in the CTIS treatment compost mix exhibited recalcitrance to degradation and some even appeared to increase in concentration which is ascribed to increased PAH availability to solvent extraction and reduction in the compost mass during the composting-biodegradation process. The best performing compost mix type for treatment of CTIS was subsequently tested in outdoor tumbler compost bins after being scaled-up by a factor of 600; this was found to produce 78% degradation of TPH concentration at the end of the treatment period. Concentrations of total nalkanes and PAHs were also significantly lowered by biodegradation. Low molecular weight (2 and 3-ring) PAHs were almost completely removed and 4-ring PAHs from the coal tar, including fluoranthene, pyrene, benzo[a]anthracene and chrysene were significantly degraded but not the 5 and 6-ring PAH compounds. Phytotoxicity assays showed that the seed germination in the treated matrix was 70% and 20% more, for corn and pea, respectively, 5 days after planting and 78% more for mustard 3 days after planting. Phosphatase enzyme activity was found to decrease in the treated matrices possibly due to the short time between end of composting and testing. The results generated from the chemical and toxicity assays of this study showed the efficacy of the composting treatment for hydrocarbon removal from these contaminated matrices and identified the best performing compost mix types (DGMSt3 and SGSt3) which can be further tested in field scale trials.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

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