Electrochemical Stimulation of PAH Biodegradation in Sediment

Fei Yan, Wu Chen, Danny Reible

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Natural attenuation of PAH in sediments is usually slow due to prevailing anaerobic conditions in sediments. Electrochemical stimulation of PAH biodegradation is proposed and demonstrated for remediation of contaminated sediment. Two graphite electrodes were placed horizontally at different depths in PAH-spiked sediments; the cathode was near the water-sediment interface and the anode was laid in the deeper sediment. An external power of 2 V was continuously applied to the electrodes to stimulate PAH biodegradation. Redox potential around the anode in powered reactors increased gradually, and was 50–150 mV higher than that in the control. pH around the anode decreased to ∼6 from an initial value of 6.4 or 6.7 in powered reactors, which reflected water electrolysis. Phenanthrene concentration at the anode decreased with time, showing a unique Z-shaped profile in the sediment in powered reactors. PAH degrading genes around the anode in powered reactor were found to increase compared to the control reactor, which provided microbial evidence of biodegradation. These findings demonstrated the capability of this novel bioelectrochemical technology for the remediation of PAH-contaminated sediment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-156
Number of pages14
JournalSoil and Sediment Contamination
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 17 2015


  • PAH
  • Sediment
  • bioremediation
  • electrochemistry


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