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Natural attenuation of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) in soil and groundwater

Alan O. Thomas, Maureen C. Leahy, Jonathan W. N. Smith and Mike J. Spence
Natural attenuation of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) in soil and groundwater
Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology (June 2017) 50 (3): 301-317


Fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) are a group of organic compounds that can be synthesized through the process of esterification of fatty acids with methanol. With the increasing use of FAME in biodiesel, there is interest in the fate and effects of FAME in the environment. Single FAME compounds are of low aqueous solubility, low volatility and low mobility but the mechanisms of autoxidation and hydrolysis may result in the generation of more mobile but equally biodegradable components. The FAME types that have been studied in the peer-reviewed literature do not appear to enhance the solubility of hydrocarbons. FAME are widely reported to be readily biodegradable under both aerobic and anaerobic conditions, although rates may vary from site to site. In the majority of studies, biodiesel FAME biodegradation occurred more rapidly than petroleum diesel biodegradation. At sites with limited electron acceptors and macronutrients, microorganisms that degrade FAME have the potential to deplete available electron acceptors and nutrients, resulting in an extended time for diesel biodegradation. As with other labile biofuels, anaerobic biodegradation of FAME may result in significant methane generation. Overall, natural attenuation would appear to be significant in controlling the fate, behaviour and potential risks posed by biodiesel.

ISSN: 1470-9236
EISSN: 2041-4803
Serial Title: Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology
Serial Volume: 50
Serial Issue: 3
Title: Natural attenuation of fatty acid methyl esters (FAME) in soil and groundwater
Affiliation: Environmental Resources Management, Oxford, United Kingdom
Pages: 301-317
Published: 20170615
Text Language: English
Publisher: Geological Society of London, London, United Kingdom
References: 89
Accession Number: 2017-056594
Categories: Environmental geology
Document Type: Serial
Bibliographic Level: Analytic
Illustration Description: illus. incl. 5 tables
Secondary Affiliation: Shell Global Solutions, NLD, NetherlandsConservation of Clean Air and Water in Europe, BEL, Belgium
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Secondary Affiliation: GeoRef, Copyright 2017, American Geosciences Institute. Reference includes data from GeoScienceWorld, Alexandria, VA, United States. Reference includes data from The Geological Society, London, London, United Kingdom
Update Code: 201730
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