Chitin and corncobs as electron donor sources for the reductive dechlorination of tetrachloroethene

Rachel A. Brennan, Robert A. Sanford, Charles J. Werth

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Chitin, corncobs, and a mixture of chitin and corncobs were tested as potential electron donor sources for stimulating the reductive dechlorination of tetrachloroethene (PCE). Semi-batch, sand-packed columns were used to evaluate the donors with aerobic and anaerobic groundwaters containing varying degrees of alkalinity. In all experiments, acetate and butyrate were the dominant fatty acids produced, although propionate, valerate, formate, and succinate were also detected. From a multivariable regression analysis on the data, the presence of chitin, limestone, and dechlorinating culture inoculum were determined to be the most positive predictors of dechlorination activity. Chitin fermentation products supported the degradation of PCE to trichloroethene (TCE), cis-1,2-dichloroethene (DCE), and vinyl chloride (VC), even in columns containing PCE DNAPL, whereas dechlorination activity was not observed in any of the columns containing corncobs alone. The longevity and efficiency of chitin as an electron donor source demonstrates its potential usefulness for passive, in situ field applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2125-2134
Number of pages10
JournalWater Research
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 2006


  • Chitin
  • Corncobs
  • Fractional factorial design
  • PCE
  • Reductive dechlorination
  • Tetrachloroethene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modeling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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