Effect of nanoscale zero-valent iron treatment on biological reductive dechlorination: A review of current understanding and research needs

Thomas A. Bruton, Benny F G Pycke, Rolf Halden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

27 Scopus citations

Abstract

Nanoscale zero-valent iron (nZVI) is a strong nonspecific reducing agent that is used for in situ degradation of chlorinated solvents and other oxidized pollutants. However, there are significant concerns regarding the risks posed by the deliberate release of engineered nanomaterials into the environment, which have triggered moratoria, for example, in the United Kingdom. This critical review focuses on the effect of nZVI injection on subsurface microbial communities, which are of interest due to their important role in contaminant attenuation processes. Corrosion of ZVI stimulates dehalorespiring bacteria, due to the production of H2 that can serve as an electron donor for reduction of chlorinated contaminants. Conversely, laboratory studies show that nZVI can be inhibitory to pure bacterial cultures, although toxicity is reduced when nZVI is coated with polyelectrolytes or natural organic matter. The emerging toolkit of molecular biological analyses should enable a more sophisticated assessment of combined nZVI/biostimulation or bioaugmentation approaches. While further research on the consequences of its application for subsurface microbial communities is needed, nZVI continues to hold promise as an innovative technology for in situ remediation of pollutants It is particularly attractive. for the remediation of subsurface environments containing chlorinated ethenes because of its ability to potentially elicit and sustain both physical-chemical and biological removal despite its documented antimicrobial properties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1148-1175
Number of pages28
JournalCritical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology
Volume45
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 3 2015

Keywords

  • chloroethene
  • dehalococcoides
  • groundwater
  • iron nanoparticles
  • nZVI
  • nanoscale zero-valent iron
  • reductive dechlorination
  • remediation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution

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