The generation of Acetones and Ketones - a positive process?


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A look back at an in-depth study regarding an in-situ chemical treatment, which employed a fermentation process - and exceeded a laboratory's expectations.

When an impacted aquifer is amend¬ed with carbon, or heated, a small por¬tion of the ferment¬able organic matter may be converted to a variety of ketones, including acetone or methyl ethyl ketone (MEK; 2-buta-nonc). The processes might temporarily raise groundwater concentrations for such compounds above site-specific cleanup levels and also may trigger regulatory con¬cerns, unless one completely understands the methods, fate and transport of ketone production.

Acetone is a VOC, but it also provides a readily biodegradable food source for soil microbes that perform reductive dechlo¬rination. In groundwater, acetone gener¬ally has a half-life that varies from 19 lo 197 days.'1 On the other hand, MEK, one of the more common volatile ketone compounds, has been widely used as an industrial solvent for paints, lacquers and varnishes in the past.'' It is also known for being highly dcgradable1'1 as its environ¬mental half-lives have reportedly ranged from 13 to 128 days.'
The occasional, iransient production of acetone and/or MEK generally occurs when alkanes and high-organic carbon levels, which exist in sub-oxic, methano-genic environments, are present.' It is assumed thai MfcK and acetone produc¬tion transpires before the system actually becomes fully anaerobic, or after a carbon source is injected. The formation of such fermentation products is widely recog¬nized as a potential limitation of substrate addition for enhanced bioremediation.

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