Effect of microbial community interactions on ETBE biodegradation potential in groundwater

Ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE) is a gasoline ether oxygenate (GEO) compound which is added to fuels to enhance combustion and reduce atmospheric emissions from vehicles.

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Accidental releases of fuels may contaminate soil and groundwater with ETBE and other gasoline hydrocarbons. Engineered remediation of gasoline-contaminated groundwater is expensive and less sustainable than natural attenuation, a technical concept which relies on biodegradation of contaminants in situ to clean up the groundwater. However, the potential for ETBE biodegradation in groundwater is unclear. This research examines the interactions between microorganisms which can biodegrade ETBE in groundwater. The aim of the project is to explore the functional role of these microorganisms in biodegradation processes, such as co-metabolism of ETBE with other ether oxygenate compounds and hydrocarbons in European groundwater. The research will investigate which microorganisms and genes are involved in the biodegradation of ETBE and other GEO in mixtures, identify ETBE-degrading microorganisms as potential markers of ETBE biodegradation potential for site screening, and deduce the optimal conditions for in-situ biodegradation of ETBE. The goal is to provide scientific information to support decisions on risk-management of ETBE-contaminated groundwater in Europe. The research is undertaken in collaboration with staff in the Dept of Animal and Plant Sciences at the University of Sheffield.

Sponsor

CONCAWE

Research Themes

Hazards

Project Dates

Start Date : 01/10/2016
End Date : 31/03/2021 

Links

Concawe

People Involved

Professor Steven Thornton
Henry Nicholls
Helen E Mallinson
Stephen Rolfe (Dept of Animal and Plant Sciences)

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