A novel sulfur-utilizing perchlorate reducing bacterial consortium successfully treated perchlorate (ClO₄⁻) in prior batch and bench-scale packed bed reactor (PBR) studies. This study examined the scale up of this process for treatment of water from a ClO ₄⁻ and RDX contaminated aquifer in Cape Cod Massachusetts. A pilot-scale upflow PBR (∼250-L) was constructed with elemental sulfur and crushed oyster shell packing media. The reactor was inoculated with sulfur oxidizing ClO₄⁻ reducing cultures enriched from a wastewater seed. Sodium sulfite provided a good method of dissolved oxygen removal in batch cultures, but was found to promote the growth of bacteria that carry out sulfur disproportionation and sulfate reduction, which inhibited ClO₄⁻ reduction in the pilot system. After terminating sulfite addition, the PBR successfully removed 96% of the influent ClO₄⁻ in the groundwater at an empty bed contact time (EBCT) of 12 h (effluent ClO₄⁻ of 4.2 µg L(-1)). Simultaneous ClO₄⁻ and NO₃⁻ reduction was observed in the lower half of the reactor before reactions shifted to sulfur disproportionation and sulfate reduction. Analyses of water quality profiles were supported by molecular analysis, which showed distinct groupings of ClO₄⁻ and NO₃⁻ degrading organisms at the inlet of the PBR, while sulfur disproportionation was the primary biological process occurring in the top potion of the reactor.
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