ZMM® and U of S Collaborate on Zeolite-Assisted Bioremediation in Cold Climates

ZMM® Canada Minerals Corp. of Peachland, B.C., and Dr. Wonjae Chang’s Lab in the Department of Civil, Geological and Environmental Engineering at the University of Saskatchewan have formed a collaborative research partnership to study the use of zeolites to enhance the bioremediation of petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated soils at low temperatures. Dr. Chang’s Lab, with support from ZMM and Mitacs, will develop a zeolite-assisted bioremediation strategy specialized for cold-climate sites impacted by petroleum hydrocarbons.

Remediating petroleum hydrocarbon-impacted soils in cold climates, including northern sites, is very challenging mainly due to low temperatures (short summer), remoteness, low soil biomass, and so on. Bioremediation is a biological treatment technology that utilizes microorganisms to degrade and/or detoxify contaminants. Yet, bioremediation for cold-region sites has been generally implemented in practice with a heavy focus on short summer treatment periods.

Recently, a pilot-scale field bioremediation experiment by Dr. Wonjae Chang’s Lab produced promising results about the feasibility of strategically extending petroleum hydrocarbon biodegradation in field-aged contaminated soils over the winter, resulting in the meaningful removal of petroleum hydrocarbons from the soils. Dr. Chang’s on-going bioremediation research has suggested that zeolite is a promising soil amendment that can assist in maintaining bioremediation under freezing conditions in petroleum hydrocarbon-contaminated soils.

The collaborative research with ZMM Canada Minerals Corp. will advance remediation technology for such environmentally challenging conditions and contribute to the environmental sustainability of cold-climate soil environments and the associated public health and safety of Canadians. 

Verne Hogg, President and CEO of ZMM, says, “Remediation of soils is commanding greater interest as environmental pressure for reclamation of contaminated sites is increasing. We’re extremely pleased to be working with Dr. Chang and his team and with Mitacs on this innovative bioremediation program.”