Introduction

Over the last two decades, mathematical modeling has become an important tool to assist in analyzing and understanding complex environmental systems. Wherever a multitude of processes, of either a physical, chemical, or biological nature, interact with each other, mathematical modeling provides a rational framework to formulate and integrate knowledge that has been otherwise derived from (i) theoretical work, (ii) fundamental (e.g., laboratory) investigations, and (iii) site-specific experimental work. In the case of subsurface systems, data acquisition is typically very expensive, especially in the field, so data sets are usually sparse. Thus, validation of complex models can be difficult. At the same time, it is the lack of spatially and temporally dense information and the need to fill the gaps between measured data that provide an important driving force for integrated modeling.

Henning Prommer, Department of Earth Sciences, Faculty of Geosciences, University of Utrecht, P.O. Box 80021, 3508 TA Utrecht, The Netherlands, and CSIRO Land and Water, Private Bag No. 5, Wembley WA 6913, Australia. D. Andrew Barry, Contaminated Land Assessment and Remediation Research Centre, Institute for Infrastructure and Environment, School of Civil Engineering and Electronics, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH9 3JL, Scotland, United Kingdom.

In situ processes making use of bioremedia-tion are prime candidates for an integrated modeling approach. Whether microbial activity is responsible for direct breakdown of organic contaminants (such as dissolved petroleum products) or whether it is employed more indirecdy to alter geochemical conditions (such that metal precipitation, for example, occurs), it is evident that predictions of the combined biogeochemical-hydrodynamic system become very difficult if isolated aspects of the total problem are considered separately. The purpose of this chapter is to show how such processes can be dealt within a single comprehensive yet realistic framework.

We have previously reviewed modeling of the fate of oxidizable organic contaminants in groundwater (9) and the physical and reactive processes during biodégradation of hydrocarbons in groundwater (50). Here, we provide an introduction and overview of the mathematical/mechanistic descriptions of the important processes governing bioremediation, considering the critical factors of microbial processes (growth and decay of bacteria) and physical processes (advection and dispersion) as they relate to the applicability of bioremediation to the removal of organic pollutants from contaminated groundwater.

Bioremediation: Applied Microbial Solutions for Real-World Environmental Cleanup Edited by Ronald M. Atlas and Jim C. Philp © 2005 ASM Press, Washington, D.C.

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