Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering


R. Ryan Dupont


Joan E. McLean

Third Advisor:

William J. Doucette


Trichloroethylene (TCE) is a chlorinated solvent most commonly used as an industrial degreaser for cleaning mechanical equipment. Historic improper management and disposal of TCE has resulted in contaminated soil and groundwater across the United States, including Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The abundance of TCE in the environment presents a public health risk because it is categorized as a Group 1 carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

The purpose of this study was to improve the bioremediation techniques of biostimulation and bioaugmentation. A continuous flow-through column study was performed where columns packed with aquifer material received a continuous flow of groundwater collected from Hill AFB. The groundwater contained TCE and a carbon source, lactate or whey, a waste product of the cheese industry to stimulate the aquifer microbial community, create anaerobic conditions, and facilitate the use of TCE as a terminal electron acceptor during respiration.

Both carbon treatments reduced TCE to the final product of ethene gas, but unlike the lactate treatment, whey provided the energy required to fully reduce TCE, without accumulating the harmful degradation byproduct, vinyl chloride. The substrate, whey, provides an effective carbon and energy source for the bioremediation of TCE, and is also more economical than highly refined chemicals, such as lactate.