Experiments were conducted to quantify nonaqueous phase liquid (NAPL) pool dissolution and its enhancement by in situ biodegradation. The experiments were performed using square cross-section, glass-bead packed column reactors with a small pool of a toluene-in-dodecane mixture (toluene mole fraction, Xtol≈0.02 or 0.09). Experimental quasi-steady-state toluene dissolution fluxes were determined using a14C-carbon mass-balance approach during water flushing with and without biodegradation. The experiments demonstrated a statistically significant bioenhancement of the toluene dissolution flux of up to roughly twofold at average pore water velocities of approximately 0.1 and 1 m/day when the toluene mole fraction was low (≈0.02); however, little or no bioenhancement was observed with the higher mole fraction (≈0.09). Although it cannot be determined conclusively, the weight of evidence based on biomass measurements and model analyses suggests that the reduced bioenhancement for the high mole fraction was due to higher dissolved toluene concentrations, which may have caused toxicity effects. Importantly, even though NAPL dissolution was not bioenhanced in every case, the biodegradation reduced toluene concentrations to low levels in the reactor effluents. © 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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