Biodegradation during contaminant transport in porous media: 3. Apparent condition-dependency of growth-related coefficients

Li Li, Irfan Yolcubal, Susannah Sandrin, Max Q. Hu, Mark L. Brusseau*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The biodegradation of organic contaminants in the subsurface has become a major focus of attention, in part, due to the tremendous interest in applying in situ biodegradation and natural attenuation approaches for site remediation. The biodegradation and transport of contaminants is influenced by a combination of microbial and physicochemical properties and processes. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of hydrodynamic residence time, substrate concentration, and growth-related factors on the simulation of contaminant biodegradation and transport, with a specific focus on potentially condition-dependent growth coefficients. Two sets of data from miscible-displacement experiments, performed with different residence times and initial solute concentrations, were simulated using a transport model that includes biodegradation described by the Monod nonlinear equations and which incorporates microbial growth and oxygen limitation. Two variations of the model were used, one wherein metabolic lag and cell transport are explicitly accounted for, and one wherein they are not. The magnitude of the maximum specific growth rates obtained from calibration of the column-experiment results using the simpler model exhibits dependency on pore-water velocity and initial substrate concentration (C0) for most cases. Specifically, the magnitude of μm generally increases with increasing pore-water velocity for a specific C0, and increases with decreasing C0 for a specific pore-water velocity. Conversely, use of the model wherein observed lag and cell elution are explicitly accounted for produces growth coefficients that are similar, both to each other and to the batch-measured value. These results illustrate the potential condition-dependency of calibrated coefficients obtained from the use of models that do not account explicitly for all pertinent processes influencing transport of reactive solutes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-223
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Contaminant Hydrology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


This research was supported by a grant provided by the US Environmental Protection Agency, under the auspices of the Joint Bioremediation Research Program, and the NIEHS superfund Basic Research program.

FundersFunder number
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


    • Biodegradation
    • Contaminant transport
    • Growth-related parameters
    • Numerical simulation


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