Multifunctional permeable barriers carrying well-performing microbial biofilms for treatment of mixed pollutant plumes

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The work is organised in seven Workpackages (WPs) and comprises 4 main parts.

Part 1 (WP1, WP2, WP5) is the backbone of the project and includes the development of the MULTIBARRIER concept on a laboratory scale up to a pilot scale.

  • In WP1, the compatibility of different key-components (the microbiology and the coarse material) to function in a MULTIBARRIER system will be examined in small-scale column systems by monitoring the removal of pollutants in a model mixed polluted groundwater. The activity of different microbial populations (endogenous and specific inoculants) will be assessed in the presence of different (reactive) coarse materials under a wide range of environmental conditions. Relevant growth-promoting additives for the microorganisms will be tested. In addition, specific well-performing microbial populations adapted to the MULTIBARRIER environment will be enriched. Thus WP1 will allow us to define compatible combinations of (reactive) coarse material and microbial input usable for the MULTIBARRIER technology and to define a set of promising MULTIBARRIER concepts.

  • In WP2, the potential of the chosen MULTIBARRIER concepts will be studied and their activity will be optimised. The behavior of the pollutants, their degradation/precipitation products and of additives through the system will be monitored.

  • In WP5, the best-performing MULTIBARRIER concept of WP2, will be chosen to be monitored in a container pilot scale system.

WP1 : Compatibility and synergy of different types of coarse material are examined in small-scale continouos flow-trough columns

WP2 : Large scale columns are used to study the kinetics of the multibarrier in detail

WP5 : the underground container pilot scale system

WP5 : Johan is sampling the pilot scale multibarrier

Part 2 (WP3, WP4) includes the microbial characterisation of well-performing MULTIBARRIER systems of Part 1 in order to understand the (bio)chemical, physical and microbial interactions taking place in the system.

  • In WP3, the general microbial ecology and the biofilm communities present in well-performing MULTIBARRIER concepts of WP2 will be studied wich includes the study of the (bio)chemistry of the system on a micro-scale. Possible stress situations that can occur in the multibarrier will be studied in WP3-bis.

  • WP4 foresees the detailed characterisation of bacterial isolates coming from the system.

In Part 3 (WP6) a technical implementation strategy of a full-scale MULTIBARRIER will be worked out. In WP6-bis, special attention will be paid to a MULTIBARRIER system that has to deal with a mixture of heavy metals, inorganics and eventually also radionuclides.

Part 4 (WP7) foresees the management of the project and the development of a methodology for easy transfer of knowledge towards potential interested industrial and socio-economic entities.


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  Multifunctional permeable barriers carrying well-performing microbial biofilms for treatment of mixed pollutant plumes