Experimental evidence for a lack of thermodynamic control on hydrogen concentrations during anaerobic degradation of chlorinated ethenes

Environ Sci Technol. 2006 Jun 1;40(11):3501-7. doi: 10.1021/es052320u.


Hydrogen (H2) concentrations during reductive dechlorination of cis-dichloroethene (cDCE) and vinyl chloride (VC) were investigated with respectto the influence of parameters entering the Gibbs free energy expression of the reactions. A series of laboratory experiments was conducted employing a mixed, Dehalococcoides-containing enrichment culture capable of complete dechlorination of chlorinated ethenes. The objective was to investigate whether a constant energy gain controls H2 levels in dechlorinating systems, thereby evaluating the applicability of the partial equilibrium approach to microbial dechlorination at contaminated sites. Variations in the temperature between 10 and 30 degrees C did not affect the H2 concentration in a fashion that suggested thermodynamic control through a constant energy gain. In another set of experiments, H2 levels at constant ionic strength were independent of the chloride concentration between 10 and 110 mmol chloride per liter. These findings demonstrate that the partial equilibrium approach is not directly applicable to the interpretation of reductive degradation of chlorinated ethenes. We also present recalculated thermodynamic properties of aqueous chlorinated ethene species that allow for calculation of in-situ Gibbs free energy of dechlorination reactions at different temperatures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Chromatography, Gas / methods
  • Dichloroethylenes / analysis
  • Dichloroethylenes / chemistry
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / analysis*
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / chemistry
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated / metabolism
  • Hydrogen / analysis*
  • Hydrogen / chemistry
  • Minerals / analysis
  • Minerals / chemistry
  • Temperature
  • Thermodynamics
  • Vinyl Chloride / analysis
  • Vinyl Chloride / chemistry
  • Water Microbiology


  • Dichloroethylenes
  • Hydrocarbons, Chlorinated
  • Minerals
  • Hydrogen
  • Vinyl Chloride