Superfund Research Program

November 2017


As part of an SRP-funded small business project, researchers at BioCement Technologies are developing a way to stimulate native soil bacteria to cement together particles in soil, including heavy metals, locking them into structures so they cannot migrate into groundwater.

Technology BioCement is a two-step process. In the first step, nutrients are applied to the soil to grow the native bacteria population. The bacteria ingest the nutrients and hydrolyze the urea component in the presence of water to form ammonium and carbonate ions. In the second step, nutrients are again applied to the soil, with the addition of calcium chloride. In the presence of calcium ions and soil particles, the carbonate ions react spontaneously with the calcium ions to form calcium carbonate, the cementing agent used to bind soil particles together.
Innovation BioCement has been shown to reduce the mobility of barium, cadmium, cobalt, lead, manganese, and zinc in soil. By forming calcite bonds around these elements, they are locked into the soil so they cannot move into and contaminate groundwater. The degree of hardening and permeability reductions are controllable. The overall process takes between 14 and 21 days to cure, depending on project specifications.
Contaminant and Media Heavy metals, including lead, cadmium, manganese, and zinc, in soil; BioCement is shipped in dry form where it is then mixed into water to reach the products final dilution. BioCement can then be applied through a variety of means such as spray hoses/spray bars, high-powered pumps, gradual surface infiltration, injection and extraction wells, etc.
Principal Investigator Malcolm Burbank, Ph.D.
Institution BioCement Technologies
Grant Number R43ES025132