Potential soil reinforcement by biological denitrification

Leon A. van Paassen, Claudia M. Daza, Marc Staal, Dimitri Y. Sorokin, Willem van der Zon, Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

362 Scopus citations


Currently new ground reinforcement techniques are being developed based on microbially induced carbonate precipitation (MICP). Many studies on MICP use microbially catalyzed hydrolysis of urea to produce carbonate. In the presence of dissolved calcium this process leads to precipitation of calcium carbonate crystals, which form bridges between the sand grains and hence increase strength and stiffness. In addition to urea hydrolysis, there are many other microbial processes which can lead to the precipitation of calcium carbonate. In this study the theoretical feasibility of these alternative MICP processes for ground reinforcement is evaluated. Evaluation factors are substrate solubility, CaCO3 yield, reaction rate and type and amount of side-product. The most suitable candidate as alternative MICP method for sand consolidation turned out to be microbial denitrification of calcium nitrate, using calcium salts of fatty acids as electron donor and carbon source. This process leads to calcium carbonate precipitation, bacterial growth and production of nitrogen gas and some excess carbon dioxide. The feasibility of MICP by denitrification is tested experimentally in liquid batch culture, on agar plate and in sand column experiments. Results of these experiments are presented and discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)168-175
Number of pages8
JournalEcological Engineering
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Biogrout
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Denitrification
  • Microbially induced carbonate precipitation (MICP)
  • Soil reinforcement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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