Optical fiber-mediated photosynthesis for enhanced subsurface oxygen delivery

Mariana Lanzarini-Lopes, Anca Delgado, Yuanming Guo, Paul Dahlen, Paul Westerhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Remediation of polluted groundwater often requires oxygen delivery into subsurface to sustain aerobic bacteria. Air sparging or injection of oxygen containing solutions (e.g., hydrogen peroxide) into the subsurface are common. In this study visible light was delivered into the subsurface using radially emitting optical fibers. Phototrophic organisms grew near the optical fiber in a saturated sand column. When applying light in on-off cycles, dissolved oxygen (DO) varied from super saturation levels of >15 mg DO/L in presence of light to under-saturation (<5 mg DO/L) in absence of light. Non-photosynthetic bacteria dominated at longer radial distances from the fiber, presumably supported by soluble microbial products produced by the photosynthetic microorganisms. The dissolved oxygen variations alter redox condition changes in response to light demonstrate the potential to biologically deliver oxygen into the subsurface and support a diverse microbial community. The ability to deliver oxygen and modulate redox conditions on diurnal cycles using solar light may provide a sustainable, long term strategy for increasing dissolved oxygen levels in subsurface environments and maintaining diverse biological communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)742-748
Number of pages7
StatePublished - Mar 2018


  • Biodegradation
  • Contamination
  • Groundwater
  • Soil
  • Solar

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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