Biodegradation of sulfolane in contaminated groundwater

The second largest contaminated site in Alaska resides beneath the city of North Pole, where hundreds of private drinking water wells have been contaminated with the industrial solvent sulfolane. In collaboration with David Barnes (UAF Institute of Northern Engineering) and Jan Sunner (University of Oklahoma), we’re working to assess biodegradation rates, groundwater flow patterns in discontinuous permafrost, to identify organisms and processes responsible for biodegradation, and to investigate the safety and efficacy of various cleanup systems including household drinking water filtration units.

Funded has been provided by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, Alaska INBRE and USGS NIWR, as well as several URSA grants to support undergraduate research and through fellowship to Ph.D. student Chris Kasanke from Alaska INBRE.


Undergraduate researcher Michael Willis collecting groundwater samples


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