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Basic Concepts Of Phytoremediation Environmental Sciences Essay

Contamination of earth in engine oil refinery has been an environmental issue of modern industrialization in many countries. The main reason for this contaminants is the contaminated products generated during the activities associated with purifying and refining petroleum in oil refinery. Those activities including distillation, chemical substance treatment, product copy and storage etc will be the contributors of the contaminants. These consist of the petroleum hydrocarbons, asbestos, metals, some inorganic chemical substances and etc[1]. There are a lot of effective remediation technologies such as pump-and-treat (PAT), dirt cleaning, thermal desorption, bioremediation and etc. However, a few of them are causing inhibition of ground fertility or even devastation to ecosystem. Therefore, this motivates my analysis on phytoremediation- a variance of bioremediation which includes been an rising technology for remediation of petroleum hydrocarbons since overdue 1990s[2].

Phytoremediation is a cost-effective in-situ treatment which melts away vegetation to clean the petroleum-contaminated soils and groundwater. Generally, it is to use the power of the "special" plant life' root base associated bacteria to take up, accumulate, and breakdown the contaminants (e. g. TPHs) positioned in soils and floor water[3](Body1). This technology is more desirable for: (a) large sites with shallow impurities where only "polishing treatment" is required; and (b) the sites where vegetation can be used as your final cover and closure of the site[4].

Figure 1 Basic ideas of phytoremediation

2. Mechanisms

There are seven mechanisms of phytoremediation: phytoextraction, rhizofiltration, phytovolatilization, phytostabilization phytodegradation, hydraulic control and rhizodegradation. They can be referred to as follows:


This is also called phytoaccumulation. It aspires to utilize plant roots to be able to uptake and translocate the material pollutants in the dirt into the above ground helpings of the crops[5].

The vegetation absorb, concentrate, and precipitate the dangerous metals from the soils into shoots, leaves, etc. (Fig. 1)[6].

Figure 2 Phytoextraction of Ni from polluted soil

There are some plant life, called hyper-accumulators, which are capable of accumulating extremely massive amount metals especially nickel, zinc and copper[7]. These plants need to be either incinerated or composted to recycle the metallic after have been used for a few time[5].


It is the adsorption or precipitation onto flower root floors, or absorption into contaminants which within the dirt solution in the main area. Although rhizofiltration looks similar with phytoextraction, the key function of rhizofiltration is to remediate the polluted groundwater rather than the soil by removing inorganics and metals. The plant life are first brought up in greenhouses with the roots in water until a sizable root system has been completed. At this stage, the original normal water source is replaced by contaminated for acclimatization. After the saturation of contaminants in the roots has been reached, the vegetation are harvested. In the analysis of removal capacity, sunflower, Indian mustard, tobacco, corn and etc. have been used to investigate removing lead from drinking water. Among those crops, sunflower gets the greatest potential[5, 6].


This will involve the uptake and transpiration of pollutants by plants, with release of the contaminants in vapour form to the atmosphere. It looks like a natural air-stripping pump system. This natural potential of volatilization permits the vegetation to volatilize the volatile organic and natural compounds in elements of refinery site, vinyl fabric chloride as well as inorganics and etc[6, 8].


This process is to use crops for immobilizing contaminants in the ground and groundwater. The root base absorb and gather the impurities, provide adsorption or precipitation within the

rhizosphere (main zone) in order to reduce the range of motion of pollutants. As contaminant migration to the groundwater or air has been minimized, the bioavailability for their entry in to the food chain can be lowered. Metal-tolerant species can be used to restore vegetation to people metal-contaminated sites. Those types not only can reduce the potential migration of contaminants but also avoid the leaching of contaminants to groundwater[5].


This is also known as phytotransformation. It is the breakdown of impurities through metabolic operations or the result of constituents (e. g. enzymes) produced by the plant life. The complex organic and natural pollutants are degraded into simple substances and these substances are then included into plant tissue[5].

Hydraulic Control

Hydraulic control is utilized by place canopies on the control of normal water table and the garden soil field capacity. Phreatophytic trees and shrubs and plants are generally used because of the capacity to transpire massive amount water and in that way influence this particular balance at the website. The increased transpiration diminishes the propensity of contaminants to move towards groundwater normal water or alleviates the migration of impurities from the website in groundwater plumes[6]. There is something to be observed that trees and shrubs must be rooted into a shallow normal water table aquifer to be able to efficiently prevent plume migration[9].


This is often referred to as phytostimulation or planted-assisted bioremediation/degradation. It could be achieved by breaking down the pollutants in the soil within the rhizosphere through microbial activities. Through the microbial activities, organic contaminants such as fuels and solvents can be biodegraded by microorganisms into safe products. The nutrients for the microorganisms are provided by the exudates produced by the flower[5].

3. Major influencing factors

(a) Soil structure and quality: Soils with high attention of pollutants soils will have a poor physical conditioning which is not able to promote the growth of vegetation and rhizosphere microorganisms. Common constraints are the deficiencies in moisture-holding capacity, aeration, nutritional and permeability etc. Thus, adjustments are required to improve the quality of earth before planting. A standard adjustment is the amendment on pH of dirt by adding sulphur or lime[9].

(b) Selection of plant: Crops are selected by taking the concerns of the mark impurities to be polluted and the remedial objectives for redevelopment such as time frame and risk management. In addition, the weather for the vegetation to be modified into is also very important. The ability of the flower acclimating to the garden soil and the depth of plant's root structure also cannot be neglected. The choice and use of herb species must be done carefully in order to avoid the benefits of non-native types into the areas which can be new to that kinds[10].

4. Advantages

Relatively low priced: Evaluating with other treatment technology such as thermal treatment, substance extraction, some ex-situ technologies and so forth, phytoremediation is relatively inexpensive as it only uses vegetation. [5, 11]. Besides, there is absolutely no extraction cost as it is an in-situ treatment.

Safe and unaggressive: Phytoremediation is driven by solar energy and there is no chemical usage

Feasible for large types of contaminants: It can be used on the major pollutants produced in olive oil refinery-petroleum hydrocarbon as well as the other trivial impurities such as VOCs, TCE and even heavy metals and etc[12].

Mitigation of land erosion: The establishment of vegetation can effectively enhance the soil structure and resulting in reducing the earth erosion.

Preventing migration of impurities: Phytoremediation avoids excavation and transport of polluted marketing as the impurities are destroyed set up. Therefore, it can lower the chance of dispersing the contamination[13].

Aesthetically pleasing: The usage of green plant life can contribute a more eye-pleasing and natural inexperienced environment.

5. Disadvantages

Relatively shallow clean-up of dirt with low contaminant concentration: Treatment is bound to soils significantly less than 1 m from surface for grasses, less than 3 m for shrubs, less than 6 m for deep-rooting trees and groundwater significantly less than 3 m from the top. Besides, it isn't effective for contaminated site with high concentration [5, 14].

Slow process: The whole process is relatively slow weighed against other technologies as 3 to 5 growing seasons are had a need to achieve remediation goals[5].

Site specific and critical place selection: The optimization of plant progress and the impurities uptake depends upon the characteristics of the site and the herb species that are selected[5].

Potential food chain contamination: Impurities may enter the food chain through pets or animals which eat the plants or borne fruits[14].

Production of residual throw away: Using phytoremediation may relocate contaminants from the subsurface to the seed, thereby creating residual waste materials to be disposed of[5].

By looking at the features of phytoremediation in various aspects, we might find some drawbacks and limitations. Although the overall performance of phytoremediation is still not effective as dirt vapor removal and other technologies, its trade-off such as low cost, practicality and environmental-friendliness implies that it's rather a encouraging solution for remediation in oil refinery, especially in developing countries. Also, many reports on phytoremediation remain being completed, so it could possibly be coupled with a great deal of technology for future improvement and in the end be broadly applied in engine oil refineries all over the world.

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