Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Nemesis for oil spills: Bacterial technology may help clean up Gulf

Date:
August 4, 2010
Source:
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Summary:
Researchers in Israel are using naturally occurring oil-munching bacteria, grown in the lab, to clean the hard-to-reach oil pockets that occur when oil mixes with sand and organic matter on beaches and forms a thin layer on the waterways.

It's taken millions of dollars to cap it, and it could take billions more to clean it up. BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is acknowledged the environmental catastrophe of the century. But Tel Aviv University has a solution that may help "bioremediate" the remaining problems.

Related Articles


Prof. Eugene Rosenberg and Prof. Eliora Ron of Tel Aviv University's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology are using naturally occurring oil-munching bacteria, grown at the TAU lab, to clean the hard-to-reach oil pockets that occur when oil mixes with sand and organic matter on beaches and forms a thin layer on the Gulf's precious waterways.

"It's worked to clean up an oil spill on the coast of Haifa, Israel, so we've already got good evidence it could work in Florida too," says Prof. Ron. Details of their decades of research appear in The Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology, published this year by Springer Verlag.

Using nature itself to fight contamination

The researchers identified a naturally occurring variety of sea-borne bacteria that digests oil. By studying the bacteria's genetic background, developing methods of growing the bacteria, and increasing their capacity to ingest the oil, the scientists have developed a solution that could clean up the residual oil that can't be removed by mechanical means.

Prof. Ron says that sucking up surface oil pools and containing the oil are important and necessary first-step actions. But her solution addresses the smaller amounts of oil left behind -- that which isn't easily removed from sand and water. It is this small percentage of oil that sits under rocks and forms a thin film on the water's surface. Her bacterial solution can remove this oil, which is necessary to protect the sea's wildlife.

"We see sad pictures of birds covered in oil and people with good intentions cleaning bird wings," says Prof. Ron. "But by the time the oil is on their wings, it's too late. Birds die because oil gets into their lungs."

Going the last mile

"The problem is huge and even with just a little bit in your lungs, oil is bad. Even when cleanup crews reduce the amount of oil at sea, there will probably be enough left behind to kill birds and wildlife." At this level of oil removal, the researcher says, the only solution is bioremediation -- using nature itself to do the final cleanup.

Featured in Time magazine in the 1970s, the bacterial bioremediation solution developed at Tel Aviv University has been applied to clean out the bilges of oil tankers at sea and is used around the world.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Friends of Tel Aviv University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Nemesis for oil spills: Bacterial technology may help clean up Gulf." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 August 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803152817.htm>.
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. (2010, August 4). Nemesis for oil spills: Bacterial technology may help clean up Gulf. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 2, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803152817.htm
American Friends of Tel Aviv University. "Nemesis for oil spills: Bacterial technology may help clean up Gulf." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100803152817.htm (accessed March 2, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Earth & Climate News

Monday, March 2, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

Whale-Watching Scientists Spot Baby Orca

AP (Feb. 28, 2015) Researchers following endangered killer whales spotted a baby orca off the coast of Washington state, the third birth documented this winter but still leaving the population dangerously low. (Feb. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Bridge Collapses Due to Flooding in Bolivia

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 28, 2015) Heavy rain and flooding sweep through parts of Bolivia causing damage and leaves more than 2,000 people homeless. Sophia Soo reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

Death Toll from Afghan Avalanches Tops 200

AFP (Feb. 27, 2015) More than 200 people have been killed in a series of avalanches triggered by heavy snowfall in Afghanistan. Duration: 00:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

France, Philippines Call for Agreement on Climate Change

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 27, 2015) The presidents of France and the Philippines issue a joint appeal for a binding agreement on climate change. Katie Sargent reports. Video provided by Reuters
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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