COLOMBO: Software for bioremediation

The process of bioremediation uses bacteria and organic agents to convert harmful chemicals in the soil into harmless components.

The harmful chemicals may be caused by old industrial workings or from an accidental leakage. It is much better from an environmental point of view to treat the soil in-situ, rather than dig it up for disposal or treatment elsewhere. Bioremediation is a complex process which depends on many factors such as soil properties, groundwater flow and temperature. Predicting the outcome of field-scale operations before they commence is vital.

The COLOMBO project aimed to develop software to assist with bioremediation and help clean up contamination. To do this accurately, complex mathematical modelling techniques were used, bringing together the physical, chemical and biological phenomena. The computing requirements of such models are very high and therefore EPCC's high-performance computers provide the most cost effective solution. The COLOMBO team produced software based on cellular automata, and implemented a graphical user interface.

At the end of the project, the majority of participating land developers agreed that the results of COLOMBO would create confidence in bioremediation and increase its use.