Effect of sulfate on the simultaneous bioreduction of iron and uranium
The biogeochemistry related to iron- and sulfate-reducing conditions influences the fate of contaminants such as petroleum hydrocarbons, trace metals, and radionuclides (i.e., uranium) released into the subsurface. An understanding of these processes is imperative to successfully predict the fate of contaminants during bioremediation scenarios. A series of flow-through sediment column experiments were performed to determine if the commencement of sulfate-reducing conditions would occur while bioavailable Fe(III) was present and to determine how the bioreduction of a contaminant (uranium) was affected by the switch from iron-dominated to sulfate-dominated reducing conditions. The results presented herein demonstrated that, under biostimulation, sulfate reduction can commence even though a significant pool of bioavailable Fe(III) is present. In addition, the rate of U(VI) reduction was not negatively affected by the commencement of sulfate-reducing conditions.