Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Using Microbes For The Quick Clean Up Of Dirty Oil

Date:
September 8, 2009
Source:
Society for General Microbiology
Summary:
Microbiologists have used mixed consortia of bacteria to break down and remove toxic compounds from crude oil and tar sands. These acidic compounds persist in the environment, and can take up to 10 years to break down. By using this microbial mixture, complete degradation of specific compounds was achieved in only a few days.

Microbiologists from the University of Essex, UK have used microbes to break down and remove toxic compounds from crude oil and tar sands. These acidic compounds persist in the environment, taking up to 10 years to break down. Mr Richard Johnson, presenting his PhD research to the Society for General Microbiology's meeting at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, described how, by using mixed consortia of bacteria, they have achieved complete degradation of specific compounds in only a few days.

Tar sand deposits contain the world's largest supply of oil. With dwindling supplies of high quality light crude oil, oil producers are looking towards alternative oil supplies such as heavy crude oils and super heavy crudes like tar sands. However, the process of oil extraction and subsequent refining produces high concentrations of toxic by-products. The most toxic of these are a mixture of compounds known as naphthenic acids that are resistant to breakdown and persist as pollutants in the water used to extract the oils and tar. This water is contained in large settling or tailing ponds.

The number and size of these settling ponds containing lethal amounts of naphthenic acids are growing daily – it is estimated that there is around one billion m3 of contaminated water in Athabasca, Canada, alone - and is still increasing. The safe exploitation of tar sand deposits depends on finding methods to clean up these pollutants.

"The chemical structures of the naphthenic acids we tested varied," said Mr. Johnson. "Some had more side branches in their structure than others. The microbes could completely break down the varieties with few branches very quickly; however, other more complex naphthenic acids did not break down completely, with the breakdown products still present. We are now piecing together the degradation pathways involved which will allow us to develop more effective bioremediation approaches for removing naphthenic acids from the environment."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for General Microbiology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for General Microbiology. "Using Microbes For The Quick Clean Up Of Dirty Oil." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 8 September 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090907214306.htm>.
Society for General Microbiology. (2009, September 8). Using Microbes For The Quick Clean Up Of Dirty Oil. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090907214306.htm
Society for General Microbiology. "Using Microbes For The Quick Clean Up Of Dirty Oil." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/09/090907214306.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

Visitors Feel Part of the Pack at Wolf Preserve

AP (July 31, 2014) Seacrest Wolf Preserve on the northern Florida panhandle allows more than 10,000 visitors each year to get up close and personal with Arctic and British Columbian Wolves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins