Effect of vegetation in pilot-scale horizontal subsurface flow constructed wetlands treating sulphate rich groundwater contaminated with a low and high chlorinated hydrocarbon

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • Zhongbing Chen - , Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (Author)
  • Shubiao Wu - , China Agricultural University (Author)
  • Mareike Braeckevelt - , Chair of Urban Water Management, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Author)
  • Heidrun Paschke - , Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Author)
  • Matthias Kästner - , Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Author)
  • Heinz Köser - , Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (Author)
  • Peter Kuschk - , Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (Author)


In order to characterize the effect of vegetation on performance of constructed wetlands (CWs) treating low and high chlorinated hydrocarbon, two pilot-scale horizontal subsurface flow (HSSF) CWs (planted with Phragmites australis and unplanted) treating sulphate rich groundwater contaminated with MCB (monochlorobenzene, as a low chlorinated hydrocarbon), (about 10mgL-1), and PCE (perchloroethylene, as a high chlorinated hydrocarbon), (about 2mgL-1), were examined. With mean MCB inflow load of 299mgm-2d-1, the removal rate was 58 and 208mgm-2d-1 in the unplanted and planted wetland, respectively, after 4m from the inlet. PCE was almost completely removed in both wetlands with mean inflow load of 49mgm-2d-1. However, toxic metabolites cis-1,2-DCE (dichloroethene) and VC (vinyl chloride) accumulated in the unplanted wetland; up to 70% and 25% of PCE was dechlorinated to cis-1,2-DCE and VC after 4m from the inlet, respectively. Because of high sulphate concentration (around 850mgL-1) in the groundwater, the plant derived organic carbon caused sulphide formation (up to 15mgL-1) in the planted wetland, which impaired the MCB removal but not statistically significant. The results showed significant enhancement of vegetation on the removal of the low chlorinated hydrocarbon MCB, which is probably due to the fact that aerobic MCB degraders are benefited from the oxygen released by plant roots. Vegetation also stimulated completely dechlorination of PCE due to plant derived organic carbon, which is potentially to provide electron donor for dechlorination process. The plant derived organic carbon also stimulated dissimilatory sulphate reduction, which subsequently have negative effect on MCB removal.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)724-731
Number of pages8
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2012

External IDs

PubMed 22832338
ORCID /0009-0001-5656-0053/work/145224071



  • Chlorobenzene (MCB), Constructed wetlands (CWs), Dechlorination, Helophyte, Perchloroethylene (PCE)