Master of Science (MS)


Environmental Sciences

Document Type



Nitroglycerin, used in propellant formulations and ignition cartridges in military weapons, has been found as a surface soil contaminant on military installations. Concerns have arisen since the fate and mobility of nitroglycerin is not understood in these natural environments. The objective of this study was to determine the fate of nitroglycerin in natural field soils. Nitroglycerin degradation was examined using a surface soil and an aquifer soil under aerobic and anaerobic conditions at three pH levels. Studies were also performed to determine the influence of a supplemental carbon source on degradation. Radiolabeled 14C-nitroglycerin was used to trace the partitioning between aqueous and soil phases. The only nitroglycerin remaining in solution appeared at pH 6 under aerobic conditions in both test soils. The addition of glucose as a carbon co-substrate did not exert a substantial effect on the rate of nitroglycerin degradation. Mass balance studies revealed partitioning differences between the two test soils with unidentified derivatives in both water and soil phases. Results from this study demonstrate nitroglycerin will not remain in parent form in anaerobic or aerobic environments (except in acidic locations), with carbon content having little influence on degradation rates.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Ralph J. Portier