Chemical Engineering


CHEE484 : Bioremediation



Juliana RamsayDupuis 425juliana.ramsay@queensu.ca613-533-2770


Jesse Harrisjesse.harris@queensu.ca

Course Description

Bioremediation W 36-0-6 42

Bioremediation as an option to treat contaminated soils and ground water. Advantages and disadvantages of bioremediation compared to nonbiological processes. Factors affecting choice of in situ or ex situ processes. Assessment of biodegradability; biostimulation vs bioaugmentation; mineralization vs partial degradation; factors affecting microbial activity (choice of electron acceptor, toxicity of pollutant, C/N/P ratio, co-substrates, soil humidity, pH and temperature); bioavailability of pollutant. Biodegradation of specific contaminants (e.g. diesel fuel, polychlorinated biphenyls, dyestuffs, aromatic and polyaromatic hydrocarbons) will be studied in detail. The design component of this course consists of learning design of appropriate laboratory and field experiments to obtain data on microbial degradation of an organic pollutant to be able to calculate bioremediation design parameters such as mass and delivery rate requirements of electron acceptors and nutrients and degradation rates in reactor and non-reactor based systems; and to be aware of limitations of these calculations. (0/0/0/38/4)

Objectives and Outcomes

The purpose of this course is to introduce the underlying biogeochemical concepts pertinent to remediation of soil and groundwater, and describe how systems can be successfully engineered to support/promote remediation with an emphasis on bioremediation. Bioremediation is an increasingly utilized remediation technology that employs biological agents (microorganisms and plants) to treat hazardous contaminants in soil, and water; can lead to the permanent removal of contaminants from the environment; and may be inexpensive when compared to conventional techniques. It is a highly multidisciplinary, evolving technology that encompasses microbiology; chemical, civil, and environmental engineering; and environmental, soil, and analytical chemistry.

Specific course learning outcomes include:

  1. Identify which pollutants are of greatest concern, describe the principles of various physical and chemical remediation technologies and relate selection of these technologies to the properties of contaminants.
  2. Determine what is needed for site characterization, explain the relevance to selection of appropriate remediation strategies, determine when bioremediation is an appropriate technology and its advantages and limitations.
  3. Describe the interactions between contaminants, soil, presence of a NAPL phase, water and microorganisms and explain how these impact the fate of the contaminant and its bioavailability for biodegradation.
  4. Calculate the C:N:P and terminal electron acceptor requirements for biodegradation, interpret the electron tower and energy gained from coupling appropriate half reactions and describe the biodegradation of specific contaminants such as linear alkanes, BTEXs, PAHs, and chlorinated compounds such as PCE and PCBs.
  5. Explain how to apply culturable and non-culturable techniques for bioassessment and biotreatability studies.

Relevance to the Program

This elective course, offered at the 4th year level, applies foundations of mathematics, science, and engineering in bioremediation and provides bio/geo/chemical insight for bioremedial engineering applications.  

Course Structure and Activities

3 lecture hours per week, 1 tutorial hour per week.  Times and locations can be found in SOLUS.


There is no text book for this course.  Reading material will be primarily review articles and powerpoint lecture slides.  Course material is onQ website.