Vetiver grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides) is capable of removing insensitive high explosives from munition industry wastewater

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Synthetic organic explosive compounds in the wastewater stream of industrial munition facilities are subject to regulatory permits and require pretreatment prior to discharge. Munition industries are currently focused on developing insensitive high explosives (IHEs) such as dinitroanisole (DNAN), nitroguanidine (NQ), and 1,2,4-triazol-3-one (NTO), to replace conventional munitions such as trinitrotoluene (TNT) and hexahydro-1,3,5-trinitro-1,3,5-triazine (RDX). IHEs are typically more soluble than conventional explosives, and their production generates waste streams with high nitrate (N) concentrations. Several chemical remediation studies have attempted to degrade the explosive compounds within waste streams with limited success. Phytoremediation is a relatively new application for the remediation of munition industry wastewater, which is both environmentally and economically sustainable. Vetiver grass (Chrysopogon zizanioides), with its massive and dense root system and ability to grow in harsh environments, has been observed to remove many chemicals from soil and water, including nutrients and TNT. The objective of this study was to evaluate the phytoremediation potential of vetiver in removing explosive compounds and N from wastewater effluents generated in an industrial munition facility. Results show that the removal efficiency of vetiver was a factor of the initial concentration. Successive batches of vetiver removed DNAN, NQ, and RDX by 96, 79 and 100%, respectively. More than 95% of N was removed by four successive batches of vetiver grass. A major portion of NQ and RDX was translocated from root to shoot. LC-MS analysis showed the presence of transformation products of RDX, HMX (1,3,5,7-Tetranitro-1,3,5,7-tetrazocane) and DNAN in vetiver root and shoot.

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© 2018 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2018.06.155

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