Synergetic effect of nitrate on dissolved organic carbon attenuation through dissimilatory iron reduction during aquifer storage and recovery

Theresia May Anggraini, Seongnam An, Jaeshik Chung, Eun Ju Kim, Man Jae Kwon, Sang Hyun Kim, Seunghak Lee

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Aquifer storage and recovery (ASR) is a promising water management technique in terms of quantity and quality. During ASR, iron (Fe) (hydr)oxides contained in the aquifer play a crucial role as electron acceptors in attenuating dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in recharging water through dissimilatory iron reduction (DIR). Considering the preference of electron acceptors, nitrate (NO3⁻), possibly coexisting with DOC as the prior electron acceptor to Fe (hydr)oxides, might influence DIR by interrupting electron transfer. However, this phenomenon is yet to be clarified. In this study, we systematically investigated the potential effect of NO3⁻ on DOC attenuation during ASR using a series of sediment columns representing typical aquifer conditions. The results suggest that DOC attenuation could be enhanced by the presence of NO3⁻. Specifically, total DOC attenuation was notably higher than that from the stoichiometric calculation simply employing NO3⁻ as the additional electron acceptor to Fe (hydr)oxides, implying a synergetic effect of NO3⁻ in the overall reactions. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analyzes revealed that the Fe(II) ions released from DIR transformed the Fe (hydr)oxides into a less bioavailable form, inhibiting further DIR. In the presence of NO3⁻, however, no aqueous Fe(II) was detected, and another form of Fe (hydr)oxide appeared on the sediment surface. This may be attributed to nitrate-dependent Fe(II) oxidation (NDFO), in which Fe(II) is (re)oxidized into Fe (hydr)oxide, which is available for the subsequent DOC attenuation. These mechanisms were supported by the dominance of DIR-relevant bacteria and the growth of NDFO-related bacteria in the presence of NO3⁻.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120954
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 2024 Feb 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s)


  • Aquifer storage and recovery
  • Dissimilatory iron reduction
  • Dissolved organic carbon attenuation
  • Iron (hydr)oxides
  • Nitrate-dependent iron oxidation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Ecological Modelling
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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