SERDP and ESTCP have invested significant resources toward understanding and validating aerobic cometabolism for the treatment of a variety of traditional and emerging pollutants, and it has proven to be a highly effective remediation approach. However, the technology remains underutilized within the Department of Defense (DoD), particularly compared to other bioremediation technologies (e.g., enhanced reductive dechlorination) because many Remediation Program Managers (RPMs) and practitioners appear not to be familiar or comfortable enough with the technology to use it for full-scale remediation. The primary focus of this project is multi-faceted technology transfer to both explain the fundamentals of cometabolism and to describe potential and current field applications of cometabolic technologies at DoD sites.

Technology Description

The goal of this technology transfer project is to use a number of different avenues to provide practical information and guidance concerning the application of cometabolic treatment approaches (i.e., biosparging, groundwater recirculation, bioreactors, etc.) at DoD sites. Cometabolism is a viable, yet underutilized approach for enhancing degradation of a multitude of DoD contaminants, including many chlorinated volatile organic compounds (cVOCs), 1,4-dioxane (1,4-D), N-nitrosodimethylamine (NDMA), methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), ethylene dibromide (EDB), and 1,2,3-trichloropropane (TCP) among others. Moreover, unlike some growth-linked remediation approaches, cometabolic processes are applicable for dilute plumes, and can be applied to treat complex contaminant mixtures (e.g., sites with 1,4-D and cVOCs).

The goal of this project is to expand the understanding and utilization of cometabolism for remediation at DoD sites. The target audience is DoD RPMs, state and federal regulators, and environmental consultants working at DoD facilities. Rather than pursue a single avenue, the technology transfer approach will include three features (1) teaching seminars (online and onsite); (2) a video showing the design and operation of a cometabolic treatment system in the field; and (3) a comprehensive, open-access review article detailing the application of cometabolic technologies for DoD contaminants of concern.


Cometabolic treatment approaches are mature and can provide DoD RPMs with a practical solution for treating a wide range of different contaminants at their sites in a cost-effective manner. This project is intended to provide DoD RPMs as well as consultants and regulators, with a practical background on the applications of cometabolism at DoD sites. Ideally, this knowledge will lead to increased and appropriate use of this technology at field sites for a wide variety of DoD contaminants of concern.