Phytoremediation is a process that uses plants to remove, transfer, stabilize, and destroy contaminants in soil and sediment. Contaminants may be either organic or inorganic. It is also called Vegetation-enhanced bioremediation. Phytoremediation consists in mitigating pollutant concentrations in contaminated soils, water, or air, with plants able to contain, degrade, or eliminate metals, pesticides, solvents, explosives, crude oil and its derivatives, and various other contaminants from the media that contain them.
Phytoremediation may be applicable for the remediation of metals, pesticides, solvents, explosives, crude oil, PAHs, and landfill leachates. Some plant species have the ability to store metals in their roots. They can be transplanted to sites to filter metals from wastewater. As the roots become saturated with metal contaminants, they can be harvested. Hyper-accumulator plants may be able to remove and store significant amount of metallic contaminants. Currently, trees are under investigation to determine their ability to remove organic contaminants from ground water, translocate and transpiration, and possibly metabolize them either to CO2 or plant tissue. 1
6 feet or the tree root zone.Techniques:
Phytoremediation is more than just planting and letting the foliage grow. typically 10-15 feet . This technique is most useful when the contaminant is within the plant root zone.
. Growing plants in water (aquaculture). There are 3 main planting techniques for phytoremediation. Growing plants on the land. Growing trees on the land and constructing wells through which tree roots can grow. This method can remediate deeper aquifers in-situ. Water from deeper aquifers can be pumped out of the ground and circulated through a "reactor" of plants and then used in an application where it is returned to the earth (e. irrigation). like crops. 3. typically 3 .
Illustration of remediation of deeper wells in-situ. 1.g. the site must be engineered to prevent erosion and flooding and maximize pollutant uptake. The wells provide an artery for tree roots to grow toward the water and form a root system in the capillary fringe. 2.
• It can transfer contamination across media. In most cases. their growth rates and yield. including LNAPL's.html •
Determining which plant to use:
The majority of current research in the phytoremediation field revolves around determining which plant works most efficiently in a given application. chlorinated solvents. • It is unfamiliar to regulators.
..g. from soil to air. • High concentrations of hazardous materials can be toxic to plants.Limitations:
Limitations to phytoremediation in soil include: • Phytoremediation -. • It is still in the demonstration stage. and their ability to bioaccumulate contaminants Research has yielded some general guidelines for groundwater phytoremediation plants. ammunition wastes. • The toxicity and bioavailability of biodegradation products is not always known. • Products may be mobilized into ground water or bioaccumulated in animals. depending on location. Plant species are selected for phytoremediation based on their potential to evapotranspirate groundwater. http://www.. The plant must grow quickly and consume large quantities of water in a short time. • It may be seasonal.gov/matrix2/section4/4-3. and they can remediate a wide variety of organic compounds. Poplars and cottonwoods are being studied extensively because they can used as much as 30 and 350 gallons of water per day. The goal is to ascertain which plants are most effective at remediating a given pollutant. the degradative enzymes they produce. Phytoremediation has been shown to work on metals and moderately hydrophobic compounds such as BTEX compounds. and / or accumulate pollutants in the same manner. A good plant would also be able to remediate more than one pollutant because pollution rarely occurs as a single compound. PCBs) and weakly sorbed contaminants. Not all plant species will metabolize. e.frtr. it is limited to shallow soils. and nitrogen compounds.work at sites that are well suited for plant growth. • It is not effective for strongly sorbed (e. means that the concentration of pollutants cannot be toxic to the plants The depth of the treatment zone is determined by plants used in phytoremediation. volatize.g. the depth of their root zone. • It involves the same mass transfer limitations as other biotreatments.
11. 2. Phytoremediation takes no maintenance once instituted. Sulfur. Strontium Buxaceae (boxwood) Nickel Compositae family Cesium. it is aesthetically pleasing. 7. Atrazine. Can stimulate bioremediation in the soil closely associated with the plant root. Plant Chemicals Arabidopsis Mercury Bladder campion Zinc. Cottonwood) (TNT). It has the potential to treat sites polluted with more than one type of pollutant After plants are introduced. Copper Brassica family (Indian Mustard Selenium. Strontium. Zinc. Phytoremediation is less expensive than the old "pump and treat" method for the treatment of contaminated water. hexahydro-1. 9.4. 5. Phytoremediation is also much less expensive than digging out the contaminated site. Carbon Trees in the Populusgenus tetrachloride. Partial listing of plants and chemicals they can remediate. Strontium Euphorbiaceae Nickel Tomato plant Lead. Works with metals and slightly hydrophobic compounds.3. 2. 3. Cadmium.3.5-trinitro-1. 8. 6. wildlife is able to flourish at the once uninhabitable site. Uranium genus Lemna(Duckweed) Explosives wastes Parrot feather Explosives wastes
Pros and Cons of Phytoremediation Advantages
1. 4.5 triazine (RDX) Pennycress Zinc. Nickel. Nitrogen compounds. 10. Zinc. Cadmium Sunflower Cesium. 4
. Cesium.Table 1 shows a partial listing of plants and which pollutants they are capable of remediating. including many organics.6-trinitrotoluene (Poplar. Copper Pesticides. Trichloroethylene (TCE). Plants can stimulate microorganisms through the release of nutrients and the transport of oxygen to their roots. Since phytoremediation uses plants. Solar energy is used to drive the cleansing activity. Chromium. & Broccoli) Copper. Disposal sites are not needed t avoids excavation and transport of polluted media thus reducing the risk of spreading the contamination. Lead.
which bind tightly to soil. Crossman.6 feet (Ecological Engineering. 11.The air could be contaminated by the burning of leaves or limbs of plants containing dangerous chemicals. Plants have short roots.12. Returning the water to the earth after aquaculture must be permitted. 10. and the application of phytoremediation. 2. They can clean up soil or groundwater near the surface in-situ. The food chain could be adversely affected by the degradation of chemicals. Contaminants may be collected in woody tissues used as fuel. the contaminants in question.
Up to 95% of TCE present in water could be removed by simply planting trees and letting them grow. November 18. Having ground cover on property reduces exposure risk to the community (i. Volatization of compounds can transform a groundwater pollution problem to an air pollution problem. 12. 5. This makes remediating DNAPL's in situ with plants and trees not recommended. 1997). 6. 13. Plants that absorb toxic materials may contaminant the food chain. 8. 15. 9. Success is dependant on the tolerance of the plant to the pollutant 7. Phytoremediation is restricted to sites with contamination as deep as the roots of the plants being used. lead). but cannot remediate deep aquifers without further design work.e. typically 3 . typically 10-15 feet (T. 4. Can take many growing seasons to clean up a site. Phytoremediation is limited to sites with lower contaminant concentrations. but do not extend deep in to the aquifer. 14.
. The low cost of phytoremediation (up to 1000 times cheaper than excavation and reburial) is the main advantage of phytoremediation. 14. Trees have longer roots and can clean up slightly deeper contamination than plants. but cannot remediate deep aquifers without further design work (see Figure 2). Trees roots grow in the capillary fringe. however many of the pro's and cons of phytoremediation applications depend greatly on the location of the polluted site. Less efficient for hydrophobic contaminants. Planting vegetation on a site also reduces erosion by wind and water Can leave usable topsoil intact
Disadvantages: 1. Phytoremediation is slower than conventional methods 3. 13. personal communication. 1997).
edu/dept/chem-eng/Biotech-Environ/MISC/phytorem.cem. and nickel. This process is repeated several times to reduce contamination to acceptable levels. This soil supports large populations of diverse microorganisms. this is where the action occurs.htm http://arabidopsis. Metal compounds that have been successfully phytoextracted include zinc. Once the plants have grown and absorbed the metal pollutants they are harvested and disposed of safely. http://www.info/students/dom/mainpage.edu/~cem181fp/phytoremed/CEM%20181/Advantages%20and %20Disadvantages. In some cases it is possible to recycle the metals through a process known as phytomining.rpi.html
Methods of Phytoremediation
Phytoremediation of metal contaminated sites
Phytoextraction is the name given to the process where plant roots uptake metal contaminants from the soil and translocate them to their above soil tissues. The plant root zone is referred to as the rhizosphere. copper. This is of particular importance on sites that have been polluted with more than one type of metal contaminant. though this is usually reserved for use with precious metals. This combination of plants and microorganisms appears to increase the biodegradation of compounds.http://www.msu. This is due to chemicals exuded by plant roots which provide carbon and energy for microbial growth.html
How Does Phytoremediation Work?
Plant roots take contaminants from the ground into the "body" of the plant. Hyperaccumulator plant species (species which absorb higher amounts of pollutants than most other species) are used on may sites due to their tolerance of relatively extreme levels of pollution. but there is promising research being completed on lead and chromium absorbing plants. As different plant have different abilities to uptake and withstand high levels of pollutants many different plants may be used.
. This technique can alos be used to re-establish a plant community on sites that have been denuded due to the high levels of metal contamination. Once a community of tolerant species has been established the potential for wind erosion (and thus spread of the pollutant) is reduced and leaching of the soil contaminants is also reduced. or precipitated in the rhizosphere. Contaminant are absorbed and accumulated by roots. The contaminants are either adsorbed onto the root surface or are absorbed by the plant roots. As the roots become saturated they are harvested and disposed of safely. adsorbed onto the roots. and also reduces the bioavailibility of the contaminant thus preventing spread through the food chain. This reduces or even prevents the mobility of the contaminants preventing migration into the groundwater or air. Repeated treatments of the site can reduce pollution to suitable levels as was exemplified in Chernobyl where sunflowers were grown in radioactively contaminated pools. Once a large root system is in place the water supply is substituted for a polluted water supply to acclimatise the plant.
Phytostabilisation is the use of certain plants to immobilise soil and water contaminants. Plants used for rhizoliltration are not planted directly in situ but are acclimated to the pollutant first. until a large root system has developed. Afer the plants become acclimatised they are planted in the polluted area where the roots uptake the polluted water and the contaminants along with it.Rhizofiltration
Rhizofiltration is similar in concept to Phytoextraction but is concerned with the remediation of contaminated groundwater rather than the remediation of polluted soils. Plants are hydroponically grown in clean water rather than soil.
and others which degrade organic herbicides. pesticide residues. Ex planta metabolic processes hydrolyse organic compounds into smaller units that can be absorbed by the plant. thus becoming incorporated into the plant tissues. Some contaminants can be absorbed by the plant and are then broken down by plant enzymes. Targets of this technology are PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). Plant enzymes have been identified that breakdown ammunition wastes. Nevertheless. or at least limit their spread in the environment. These smaller pollutant molecules may then be used as metabolites by the plant as it grows. It is also difficult to assess the contribution of rhizospheric microorganisms (bacteria and fungi associated with plant roots) to the overall success of plant-assisted phytoremediation of organics. PAHs (polyaromatic hydrocarbons). the initial progress in utilizing plants for the cleanup and containment of organic pollutants warrants serious evaluation of this area of research.
. Various enzymes that are capable of metabolizing pollutants were identified in plants.
Phytodegradation is the degradation or breakdown of organic contaminants by internal and external metabolic processes driven by the plant. In general. TCEs (trichloroethylenes). various explosives and other toxic organic pollutants deposited in soils and waters around us by industry. our understanding of the mechanisms of degradation of organic pollutants by plants lags behind our knowledge of bacteria-assisted bioremediation.Phytoremediation of organic polluted sites
Phytoremediation of organics
Phytoremediation of organic pollutants takes advantage of the fact that living plants carry out a plethora of chemical reactions energized by sunlight. which metabolize or mineralize organic molecules. Plants and associated microorganisms can degrade these pollutants. chlorinated solvents such as TCE (Trichloroethane).
There are two such uses for plants: Riparian corridors Riparian corridors and buffer strips are the applications of many aspects of phytoremediation along the banks of a river or the edges of groundwater plumes. The plants are effectively acting as natural hydraulic pumps which when a dense root network has been established near the water table can transpire up to 300 gallons of water per day.
Hydraulic control of Pollutants
Hydraulic control is the term given to the use of plants to control the migration of subsurface water through the rapid upltake of large volumes of water by the plants. The contaminant may become modified along the way. phytostimulation. producing harmless products through a process known as Bioremediation. The plant roots also loosen the soil and transport water to the rhizosphere thus additionally enhancing microbial activity. Plant root exudates such as sugars.Rhizodegradation
Rhizodegradation (also called enhanced rhizosphere biodegradation. and rhizodegradation are used to control the spread of contaminants and to remediate polluted sites. Vegetative cover
. Riparian strips refer to these uses along the banks of rivers and streams. Pytodegradation. whereas buffer strips are the use of such applications along the perimeter of landfills. alcohols. Some of these compound may also act as chemo tactic signals for certain microbes. as the water travels along the plant's vascular system from the roots to the leaves. whereby the contaminants evaporate or volatilize into the air surrounding the plant. Certain soil dwelling microbes digest organic pollutants such as fuels and solvents. and organic acids act as carbohydrate sources for the soil micro flora and enhance microbial growth and activity. and plant assisted bioremediation) is the breakdown of organic contaminants in the soil by soil dwelling microbes which is enhanced by the rhizosphere's presence.
Phytovolatilization is the process where plants uptake contaminaints which are water soluble and release them into the atmosphere as they transpire the water. This fact has been utilised to decrease the migration of contaminants from surface water into the groundwater (below the water table) and drinking water supplies. phytovolatilization. There are varying degrees of success with plants as phytovolatilizers with one study showing poplar trees to volatilize up to 90% of the TCE they absorb.
It costs only several hundred dollars to grow a hectare of soybeans or corn which can yield over 20 tons of dry biomass. until recently. Research results show significant potential to use plants for remediation of metal and organic pollutants and to develop molecular approaches which further improve this process.Vegetative cover is the name given to the use of plants as a cover or cap growing over landfill sites. However. plants do not require sterile conditions or organic nutrients and are easier to propagate and harvest. Growing plants is also several hundred times cheaper than growing an equivalent weight of bacterial biomass. leaching of contaminants. The main reason is that unlike bacteria.
. Plants used in this manner are not only more aesthically pleasing they may also help to control erosion.
Conclusions Crops are among our most inexpensive products. The standard caps for such sites are usually plastic or clay. and may also help to degrade the underlying landfill. bacteria attracted much more interest in remediation of water and soil than plants.