In situ Bioremediation of Groundwater Contaminated with Trichloroethylene & Perchloroethylene (TCE & PCE)

Primary Inventors: 

Innovative in situ Bioremediation Technique

This invention comprises a novel design for a microbial cell that has an electrode colonized by a unique strain of Geobacter lovleyi. This bacterium forms a biofilm directly on the electrode surface. The biofilm then utilizes electrons transferred directly from the electrode surface for reductive dechlorination of TCE and PCE to cis-DCE.


Need for Better Technology to remove TCE and PCE from Groundwater

TCE/PCE groundwater contamination is a serious issue for a majority of the "Superfund" sites identified by the EPA as sites that require decontamination. These chemicals are nervous system depressants and suspected hepatotoxins and carcinogens in humans. Long term exposure through water could lead to severe health problems.  A commonly used ex situ method for decontamination is "pump and treat", where pumps draw out groundwater and either expose it to air to evaporate the TCE/PCE or remove the chemicals by passing through activated charcoal. This method is energy-intensive and has not been effective. Current abiotic and biotic in situ remediation strategies available have limitations and drawbacks.


  1. Formation of a biofilm provides tolerance to higher concentrations of the contaminant, allowing closer proximity to the source
  2. Unique design prevents competition from other bacteria present in the groundwater environment
  3. Overcomes limitations of current abiotic reductive chlorination and biotic techniques
  4. The strain of Geobacter loveleyi isolated from anaerobic sub-surface environments and is well suited to groundwater environments
Licensing Status: 
Available for Licensing and Sponsored Research
Patent Status: 

Patent US 8,277,657 issued

UMA 08-17
For More Information: 

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