Home arrow News arrow Bioremediation can clean the Oil Spill
Bioremediation can clean the Oil Spill

Bioremediation allows natural processes to clean up harmful chemicals in the environment. Microscopic “bugs” or microbes that live in soil and groundwater like to eat certain harmful chemicals, such as those found in gasoline and oil spills. When microbes completely digest these chemicals, they change them into water and harmless gases such as carbon dioxide.

Oil industry uses oil-eating bacteria. The most common applications are in bioremediation (using microbes to clean up pollutants) of oil spills or reduction of the environmental impact of waste products from oil production.

In order for microbes to clean up harmful chemicals, the right temperature, nutrients (fertilizers), and amount of oxygen must be present in the soil and groundwater. These conditions allow the microbes to grow and multiply—and eat more chemicals. When conditions are not right, microbes grow too slowly or die. Or they can create more harmful chemicals. If conditions are not right at a site, one way to improve conditions is to pump air, nutrients, or other substances (such as molasses) underground.

Sometimes microbes are added if enough aren’t already there. The right conditions for bioremediation cannot always be achieved underground. At some sites, the weather is too cold or the soil is too dense. At such sites, dig up the soil to clean it above ground where heaters and soil mixing help improve conditions. After the soil is dug up, the proper nutrients are added. Oxygen also may be added by stirring the mixture or by forcing air through it. However, some microbes work better without oxygen. With the right temperature and amount of oxygen and nutrients, microbes can do their work to “bioremediate” the harmful chemicals.

Microbes occur in nature and each type of microbe is programmed to do certain tasks. Some decompose plant matter, others help break down toxins. In the last 20 years scientists have been able to find and ‘harvest’ these naturally occurring oil-eating microbes from around the world and increase their reproduction cycle so that trillions are now available to help us.

These microbes are commercially available and have been tested successful on large oil spills around the world. These microbes can be supplied immediately in large enough quantities to ‘bioremediate’ the oil that is now washing up on the beaches and in the marshes of the Gulf Coast. The microbes are simply mixed with water and sprayed on the oil as it reaches the calmer waters near shore or on shore itself. Once applied to the oil, the microbes eat it – leaving a natural waste product that is harmless to marine life. Their waste is non-toxic and can actually be beneficial to the plants and sea creatures that feed on it.

Cotton and Microbes
Cotton waste fibers not only are thirsty to absorb oil (used to holding cotton oil) but they also have microbes that sequester oil from the marine environment and bioremediate (eat) the oil into stable waste.

Reference: www.thestickytongue.org