Uranium bioremediation in continuously fed upflow sand columns inoculated with anaerobic granules

Aida Tapia-Rodriguez, Virginia Tordable-Martinez, Wenjie Sun, James A. Field, Reyes Sierra-Alvarez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Reductive precipitation of soluble hexavalent uranium (U(VI)) to insoluble tetravalent uranium (U(IV)) containing minerals is one of the more promising approaches to uranium remediation. The objective of this study was to evaluate the long-term performance of methanogenic granules for the continuous treatment of U(VI). For this purpose, three sand-packed columns inoculated with anaerobic biofilm were operated with or without ethanol and one column was exposed to nitrate co-contamination. The columns were operated for 373 days and efficiently removed U (24mgL -1) in excess of 99.8%. No long-term benefit of ethanol addition was observed, suggesting that endogenous substrates in the biofilm were sufficient to drive the reduction reactions. Nitrate addition was found to inhibit U(VI) reduction and cause re-oxidation of some U(IV) deposited in the column. Taken as a whole, the results indicate that methanogenic biofilms can be reliably applied in bioreactor technology for sustained U removal from groundwater.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2583-2591
Number of pages9
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Bioreactor
  • Ethanol
  • Methanogenic biomass
  • Precipitation
  • Uraninite
  • Uranium reduction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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