Remediation of trimethylbenzene isomers (TMB) is particularly challenging, but effective options including bioremediation are available. TMB is has characteristics similar to the BTEX compounds and some similar to middle range fractions such as naphthalene. These characteristics are summarized in the following table. The solubility of TMB is much lower than BTEX compounds, but much higher than the PAHs such as benzo(a)pyrene. The Henry’s constant and partition coefficient for TMB are close to that of BTEX compounds.
Because of the solubility difference, TMB can be resistant to treatment methods used for BTEX compounds. The low solubility can also reduce the potential for bioremediation. However, the organisms in Petrox produce an enzyme that facilitates the degradation of TMB. Although the specific enzyme has not been identified, Petrox organisms produce a wide range of enzymes, such as the naphthalene monooxygenase, that can increase the solubility and availability of the chemical for metabolism.
Petrox was used at a site in New England where TMB had impacted ground water in an area that was inaccessible for other forms of remediation. Petrox was injected into the ground water in two monthly applications around the monitoring well. After treatment, the TMB concentrations decreased 74%.
This case study confirmed that Petrox bioremediation can effectively treat TMB in ground water. Petrox bioaugmentation added a very high population of known degraders of TMB. The microbes were also added just where they were needed. Petrox bioaugmentation reduces the risk of project failure by adding a high population of organisms with known characteristics where they are needed the most.
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