Effect of nitrate and sulfate on dechlorination by a mixed hydrogen-fed culture

D. K. Nelson, R. M. Hozalski, L. W. Clapp, M. J. Semmens, P. J. Novak

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30 Scopus citations


A novel hollow-fiber membrane remediation technology developed in our laboratory for hydrogen delivery to the subsurface was shown to support the dechlorination of perchloroethene (PCE) to cis-dichloroethene. In previous research, the presence of nitrate or sulfate has been observed to inhibit biological reductive dechlorination. In this study hollow-fiber membranes were used to supply hydrogen to a mixed culture to investigate whether adequate hydrogen could be added to support dechlorination in the presence of alternative electron acceptors. By continuously supplying hydrogen through the membrane, the hydrogen concentrations within the reactor were maintained well above the hydrogen thresholds reported to sustain reductive dechlorination. It was hypothesized that by preventing nitrate and sulfate reducers from decreasing hydrogen concentrations to below the dehalorespirer threshold, the inhibition of PCE dechlorination by nitrate and sulfate might be avoided and dechlorination could be stimulated more effectively. Enough membrane-fed hydrogen was supplied to completely degrade the alternative electron acceptors present and initiate dechlorination. Nevertheless, nitrate and sulfate inhibited dechlorinating activity even when hydrogen was not limiting. This suggests that competition for hydrogen was not responsible for the observed inhibition. Subsequent microcosm experiments demonstrated that the denitrification intermediate nitrous oxide was inhibitory at 13 μM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-236
Number of pages12
JournalBioremediation Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002


  • Dechlorination
  • Electron donor
  • Hollow-fiber membranes
  • Hydrogen
  • Nitrate
  • Sulfate

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