Microbially Induced Calcite Precipitation (MICP), or bio-cementation, is a promising bio-mediated technology that can improve the engineering properties of soils through the precipitation of calcium carbonate. Despite significant advances in the technology, concerns regarding the fate of produced NH4+by-products have remained largely unaddressed. In this study, five 3.7-meter long soil columns each containing one of three different soils were improved using ureolytic bio-cementation, and post-treatment NH4+by-product removal was investigated during the application of 525 L of a high pH and high ionic strength rinse solution. During rinsing, reductions in aqueous NH4+were observed in all columns from initial concentrations between ≈100 mM to 500 mM to final values between ≈0.3 mM and 20 mM with higher NH4+concentrations observed at distances furthest from the injection well. In addition, soil Vsmeasurements completed during rinse injections suggested that no significant changes in cementation integrity occurred during NH4+removal. After rinsing and a 12 hour stop flow period, all column solutions achieved cumulative NH4+removals exceeding 97.9%. Soil samples collected following rinsing, however, contained significant sorbed NH4+masses that appeared to have a near linear relationship with surrounding aqueous NH4+concentrations. While these results suggest that NH4+can be successfully removed from bio-cemented soils, acceptable limits for NH4+aqueous concentrations and sorbed NH4+masses will likely bemore »
Specimens of silica sand treated via enzyme induced carbonate precipitation (EICP) showed surprisingly high strength at a relatively low carbonate content when non-fat powdered milk was included in the treatment solution. EICP is a biologically-based soil improvement technique that uses free urease enzyme to catalyze the hydrolysis of urea in an aqueous solution, producing carbonate ions and alkalinity that in the presence of calcium cations leads to precipitation of calcium carbonate. The strength achieved at less than 1.4% carbonate content via a single cycle of treatment was unprecedented compared to results reported in the literature from both EICP and microbially induced carbonate precipitation (MICP). Scanning electron microscope images show that in the specimens treated with the solution containing powdered milk the carbonate precipitate was concentrated at interparticle contacts. The impact of these results include reductions in the concentration of substrate and enzyme required to achieve a target compressive strength, reduction in the undesirable ammonium chloride by-product, and, depending on the desired strength, reduction in the number of cycles of EICP treatment. These advantages enhance the potential for development of a sustainable method of soil improvement via hydrolysis of urea.
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- Scientific Reports
- Nature Publishing Group
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- National Science Foundation
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