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In the framework of the Life+ InSiTrate project, a pilot-plant was established to demonstrate the viability of inducing in-situ heterotrophic denitrification to remediate nitrate (NO)-polluted groundwater. Two injection wells supplied acetic acid by pulses to an alluvial aquifer for 22months. The monitoring was performed by regular sampling at three piezometers and two wells located downstream. In the present work, the pilot-plant monitoring samples were used to test the usefulness of the isotopic tools to evaluate the efficiency of the treatment. The laboratory microcosm experiments determined an isotopic fractionation (ε) for N-NO of -12.6‰ and for O-NO of -13.3‰. These εN and εO values were modelled by using a Rayleigh distillation equation to estimate the percentage of the induced denitrification at the pilot-plant while avoiding a possible interference from dilution due to non-polluted water inputs. In some of the field samples, the induced NO reduction was higher than 50% with respect to the background concentration. The field samples showed a reduced slope between δO-NO and δN-NO (0.7) compared to the laboratory experiments (1.1). This finding was attributed to the reoxidation of NO to NO during the treatment. The NO isotopic characterization also permitted the recognition of a mixture between the denitrified and partially or non-denitrified groundwater in one of the sampling points. Therefore, the isotopic tools demonstrated usefulness in assessing the implementation of the field-scale induced denitrification strategy.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: The Science of the total environment
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Unstable isotopes of nitrogen that decay or disintegrate emitting radiation. N atoms with atomic weights 12, 13, 16, 17, and 18 are radioactive nitrogen isotopes.
Unstable isotopes of oxygen that decay or disintegrate emitting radiation. O atoms with atomic weights 13, 14, 15, 19, and 20 are radioactive oxygen isotopes.
Stable oxygen atoms that have the same atomic number as the element oxygen, but differ in atomic weight. O-17 and 18 are stable oxygen isotopes.
The circulation of nitrogen in nature, consisting of a cycle of biochemical reactions in which atmospheric nitrogen is compounded, dissolved in rain, and deposited in the soil, where it is assimilated and metabolized by bacteria and plants, eventually returning to the atmosphere by bacterial decomposition of organic matter.
Stable nitrogen atoms that have the same atomic number as the element nitrogen, but differ in atomic weight. N-15 is a stable nitrogen isotope.