Sulfate BioChem (SBC)

SBC is a cost-effective and extremely safe option for in situ treatment of petroleum compounds. Some situations are not appropriate for ISCO because of high oxidant demand or sensitive underground utilities. As an alternative to ISCO we have developed Sulfate BioChem (SBC), which works with naturally reducing conditions to promote the anaerobic biological oxidation of organic compounds. The primary constituent is magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts), which is exceptionally safe and won’t damage pipes or utilities. It is also relatively inexpensive compared to oxidants. Because it is so safe and soluble, SBC can be easily injected. SBC is so safe and cost-effective that many of our customers apply SBC to open excavations after removing a petroleum tank as a precaution.

The mixture in SBC supports anaerobic oxidation conditions and delivers oxygen (soluble sulfates) for long-term biological oxidation under anaerobic conditions. SBC contains several soluble sulfur salts, each with a different purpose. Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) provides the main source of sulfate electron acceptors and magnesium, essential for cell growth and function. Other sulfur compounds in the mixture help to achieve and maintain the proper redox conditions for the anaerobic oxidation of petroleum compounds by sulfate reduction. During anaerobic oxidation, the petroleum utilize the oxygen on the sulfate to convert to harmless carbon dioxide and water.

The long-term remediation process is biological oxidation. Based on Weidemeier et al. (1999), more than 70% of the natural attenuation of fuels results from sulfate reduction. In addition, there are many descriptions in the literature of the addition of soluble sulfate to successfully remediate petroleum-contaminated sites (e.g., Reinhard et al., 1997; Anderson and Lovely, 2000; Somsamak et al., 2001; Sublette et al., 2006). The site described by Reinhard et al., 1997 is in a similar geologic setting near sensitive coastal use areas. We have used sulfate reduction to remediate sites to closure.

SBC has advantages over other formulations used for bioremediation. It provides soluble sulfates and compounds that help develop and promote the necessary redox conditions to sustain oxidation by sulfate reduction. SBC is ideally suited for the treatment of BTEX, and MTBE, as well as naphthalene and other PAHs.


  1. Weidemeier et al., 1999, Natural Attenuation of Fuels and Chlorinated Solvents in the Subsurface, John Wiley and Sons, New York.
  2. Anderson and Lovely, 2000, Environ. Sci. Technol., 34, 2261-2266.
  3. Reinhard et al., 1997, Environ. Sci. Technol., 31, 28-36.
  4. Somsamak et al., 2001, FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 37, 259-264.
  5. Sublette et al., 2006, Ground Water Monitoring and Remediation, 26 (2), 70-78.

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