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Environmental Soil Chemistry
Second title: Environmental Soil Chemistry
Provider: Faculty of Science

Activity no.: 5714-21-09-31 
Enrollment deadline: 02/09/2021
PlaceDepartment of Plant and Environmental Sciences
Date and time02.09.2021, at: 00:00 - 31.12.2021, at: 16:00
Regular seats10
ECTS credits8.00
Contact personHans Chr. Bruun Hansen    E-mail address: haha@plen.ku.dk
Enrolment Handling/Course OrganiserHans Chr. Bruun Hansen    E-mail address: haha@plen.ku.dk
Written languageEnglish
Teaching languageEnglish
Semester/BlockBlock 1
Block noteThe course runs from start of September and the following 16 weeks but only regulary during the first 8 weeks
Scheme groupNot included in the scheme group
Scheme group noteMSc part of the PhD course falls in teaching group C (Monday afternoon, Wednesday)
Exam formWritten assignment
Exam detailsWritten report or commented poster on topic agreed with the course teacher. Preferably to be completed within one month after termination of the tutorials.
Grading scalePassed / Not passed
Course workload
Course workload categoryHours
Theory exercises30.00
Project work100.00


Aim and content
This course presents an overview of the various processes determining the fate of natural and anthropogenic pollutants in soils, sediments and water.
An overview of pollutants in soil and water media is given for a wide spectrum of pollutants, including both nutrients, inorganic pollutants (like heavy metals and radionuclides), and organic contaminants (such as pharmaceuticals, pesticides, solvents, polymers). Both solids (like clays, metal oxides, carbonates, humic matter) and the solution phase properties are included to enable estimation of pollutant distribution, sorption (incl. bioavailability), transformation, and mineralisation. Main focus is on reactions at the solid-solution interfaces in soil and sediment systems, such as sorption (pollutant bonding), abiotic degradation (oxidation/reduction, hydrolysis, photolysis) and microbial/enzymatic degradation. The course includes a short introduction and training in the use of equilibrium computation (MINTEQ) and QSAR tools (EPISuite).
Focus throughout the course is on a quantitative approach enabling calculations to estimate distribution, degradation rates, product speciation, etc. for quantifying the fate of pollutants.

Part of the course comprise lectures and exercises from the MSc course "Soil and Water Pollution - concepts and theories" taught in the same period.
In addition to these lectures and exercises, there will be tutorials/colloquia with only the PhD students. The colloquia are mainly spent on papers and topics of interest by the students. The papers are discussed in plenum and summarized by the course participants.

In summary, the main topics of the course are:
• Properties of geosorbents (metal oxides, silicates, humic matter)
• Transformation processes at particle surfaces (minerals, organic matter)
• Microbial populations and microbial degradation of pollutants
• Basic models for equilibrium speciation, solubility, and for sorption of ionic and non-ionic pollutants (e.g. pesticides, petrochemicals, PAH's/PCBs, trace metals, natural toxins) including surface complexation models.
• Kinetics of sorption and degradation processes incl. diffusion.
• Hydrolysis of metal ions and organic pollutants
• Redox processes - degradation and mobility of pollutants.
• Photochemical processes, direct and indirect.
• Sorption and activity of biological macromolecules (enzymes, proteins, DNA, biodetergents)
•Particles as pollutant transporters
•Coupled abiotic and microbial pollutant degradation processes
•Pollutant remediation – how do we use insight from natural processes to develop remediation technologies.

It is possible to reduce the course extent from 8 to 5 ects by skipping parts of the course – in agreement with the course teacher.

Formel requirements
Academic qualifications:
Basic insight in chemistry, soil chemistry, and microbiology
Course info:
The PhD students following the course will be registered for use of the course info system (Absalon) where all teaching material and info is presented. PhD students should register for that by contacting the course responsible teacher.

Learning outcome
Knowledge on structure of particle surfaces in soil and aquatic environment
• Knowledge on sorption and chemical reactions at the solid-solution interfaces
• Knowledge on prime microbial degraders in soils, microbial degradation reactions and degradation pathways
• Computation of sorption and degradation reactions at particle surfaces
• Computation of speciation and estimation of pollutant chemical and physical properties
• Insight on engineering of particle surfaces for sorption and degradation of pollutants.

Hansen, HCB (ed)(2014): Soil Pollution – Biogeochemistry and Modelling. Approx. 200 pp.
• Schwarzenbach et al. (2016) Environmental Organic Chemistry. Selected chapters.
• Pepper et al. (2014) Environmental Microbiology.
• Journal articles (distributed at the course)
• Equilibrium computation software (VMINTEQ) and other software (e.g. EpiSuite and chemical drawing programs). To be downloaded from the internet

Target group

Academic qualifications:
Basic skills in chemistry, soil chemistry, and microbiology

Teaching and learning methods
Lectures and computational exercises in the MSc part of the course (Soil and Water Pollution) + colloquia specific for PhD students.


Free of charge for PhD-students under the Open Market for Postgraudate Courses in Denmark and from NOVA-partners.

Exam period:
Time for hand-in of report to be agreed between course responsible and the ph.d. student


UCPH discloses non-sensitive personal data to course leader/speakers, if any. In addition, we will disclose non-sensitive personal data to the other participants in the course. Non-sensitive personal data includes names, job positions, institution names & addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses.

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