Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New method of cleaning toxins from oilsands

Date:
December 21, 2011
Source:
University of Calgary
Summary:
Researchers have isolated biofilms that are indigenous to the oilsands environment and are highly tolerant to the stress associated with toxins and metals found in tailings water. Those consortia of biofilms are able to, slowly, detoxify the water.

Susanne Golby is part of the University of Calgary research group that has isolated biofilms that are indigenous to the oilsands environment and are highly tolerant to the stress associated with toxins and metals found in tailings water. Those consortia of biofilms are able to, slowly, detoxify the water.
Credit: Photo by Riley Brandt

Oilsands development uses a vast amount of water and even though it's recycled multiple times, the recycling concentrates the toxins and metals leftover from extracting and upgrading the bitumen, resulting in controversial tailings ponds that are a significant risk to the environment.

Two years into a research project between biologists at the University of Calgary and engineers at the University of Alberta both groups are excited about their progress. A paper into the first round of research will be published in the January edition of FEMS Microbial Ecology.

Much of the research into tailings remediation has focused on microbes and their ability to settle the tailings sludge and clean the water. This NSERC-funded research is focused on a certain kind of bacterial growth called biofilms. Biofilms are everywhere in our environment, including in the plaque on our teeth and they can be very resilient, says Raymond Turner, a professor in the biological sciences department.

"We've isolated biofilms that are indigenous to the oilsands environment and are highly tolerant to the stress associated with toxins and metals found in tailings water. Those consortia of biofilms are able to, slowly, detoxify the water," says Turner, who co-leads the project with Howard Ceri, a biological sciences professor.

A sample of sediment, or sludge, was taken from a tailings pond in the summer of 2009. MSc candidate and paper co-author Susanne Golby was able to cultivate biofilms from the sample under a variety of different conditions.

"It was really exciting when we found that multiple different species could be recovered within one biofilm. By altering the growth conditions, and exposing the biofilms to different stressors, we could select for or against certain species and we began to learn how we could manipulate the biofilms to get the metabolic activities and characteristics we were looking for."

Turner and his team are actively growing biofilms on the support material to test in bioreactors, which are being developed by professors and their graduate students in the civil and environmental engineering department at University of Alberta.

The ultimate goal, says Turner, is to develop tailings water treatment plants for all the oilsands operations. "The plant would take all tailings water, completely clean it, and return it to the river system. Just like wastewater in Calgary is cleaned and returned to the Bow River."


Story Source:

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


Journal Reference:

  1. Susanne Golby, Howard Ceri, Lisa M. Gieg, Indranil Chatterjee, Lyriam L.R. Marques, Raymond J. Turner. Evaluation of microbial biofilm communities from an Alberta oil sands tailings pond. FEMS Microbiology Ecology, 2012; 79 (1): 240 DOI: 10.1111/j.1574-6941.2011.01212.x

Cite This Page:

University of Calgary. "New method of cleaning toxins from oilsands." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 December 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111221091920.htm>.
University of Calgary. (2011, December 21). New method of cleaning toxins from oilsands. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111221091920.htm
University of Calgary. "New method of cleaning toxins from oilsands." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/12/111221091920.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) — The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — With Pacific ocean water already showing signs of warming, the NOAA says there's about a 66 percent chance the event will begin before November. Video provided by Newsy
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