Image_3_Attenuating Sulfidogenesis in a Soured Continuous Flow Column System With Perchlorate Treatment.TIFF

Hydrogen sulfide production by sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) is the primary cause of oil reservoir souring. Amending environments with chlorate or perchlorate [collectively denoted (per)chlorate] represents an emerging technology to prevent the onset of souring. Recent studies with perchlorate reducing bacteria (PRB) monocultures demonstrated that they have the innate capability to enzymatically oxidize sulfide, thus PRB may offer an effective means of reversing souring. (Per)chlorate may be effective by (i) direct toxicity to SRB; (ii) competitive exclusion of SRB by PRB; or (iii) reversal of souring through re-oxidation of sulfide by PRB. To determine if (per)chlorate could sweeten a soured column system and assign a quantitative value to each of the mechanisms we treated columns flooded with San Francisco bay water with temporally decreasing amounts (50, 25, and 12.5 mM) of (per)chlorate. Geochemistry and the microbial community structure were monitored and a reactive transport model was developed, Results were compared to columns treated with nitrate or untreated. Souring was reversed by all treatments at 50 mM but nitrate-treated columns began to re-sour when treatment concentrations decreased (25 mM). Re-souring was only observed in (per)chlorate-treated columns when concentrations were decreased to 12.5 mM and the extent of re-souring was less than the control columns. Microbial community analyses indicated treatment-specific community shifts. Nitrate treatment resulted in a distinct community enriched in genera known to perform sulfur cycling metabolisms and genera capable of nitrate reduction. (Per)chlorate treatment enriched for (per)chlorate reducing bacteria. (Per)chlorate treatments only enriched for sulfate reducing organisms when treatment levels were decreased. A reactive transport model of perchlorate treatment was developed and a baseline case simulation demonstrated that the model provided a good fit to the effluent geochemical data. Subsequent simulations teased out the relative role that each of the three perchlorate inhibition mechanisms played during different phases of the experiment. These results indicate that perchlorate addition is an effective strategy for both souring prevention and souring reversal. It provides insight into which organisms are involved, and illuminates the interactive effects of the inhibition mechanisms, further highlighting the versatility of perchlorate as a sweetening agent.