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Journal of Environmental Quality Abstract - Bioremediation and Biodegradation

Coupled Abiotic–Biotic Mineralization of 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene (TNT)


This article in JEQ

  1. Vol. 31 No. 3, p. 736-744
    Received: May 14, 2001

    * Corresponding author(s): tfhess@uidaho.edu
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  1. Thomas F. Hess * and
  2. Paul S. Schrader
  1. Center for Hazardous Waste Remediation and Research, Univ. of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-0904


Munitions wastes such as TNT are widespread contaminants in soils and ground waters. We investigated a coupled abiotic–biotic treatment scheme for remediation of aqueous solutions of TNT. Mineralization of aqueous TNT (0.22 mM) was initially optimized with minimum reactant use (Fe3+ and H2O2) in light-assisted and dark, modified Fenton reactions at acidic and neutral pH. Complete TNT degradation occurred under all reaction conditions within 24 h. Using the optimum reactant concentrations, coupled abiotic–biotic reactions showed an increase in TNT mineralization, from 47 to 80%, after biomass addition to the acidic, dark Fenton-like reaction. Comparable increases of TNT mineralization were observed under neutral pH with similar reaction conditions. In light-assisted Fenton-like reactions at neutral pH, no increase in cumulative TNT mineralization (66%) was seen in coupled abiotic–biotic reactions. Abiotic photo-Fenton-like reactions alone, at acidic pH, produced complete TNT mineralization and required no biotic assistance. While light-enhanced Fenton reactions alone can provide high levels of TNT mineralization, the dark abiotic–biotic reaction scheme has perhaps a wider use due to a similar extent of TNT mineralization in the absence of light, leading to possible applications in soil slurry and in situ processes in the subsurface.

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Copyright © 2002. American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, Soil Science SocietyPublished in J. Environ. Qual.31:736–744.