Biosurfactants Are Said to Be Useful in Controlling the Oil Spills, New Research Explains

Biosurfactants Are Said to Be Useful in Controlling the Oil Spills, New Research Explains

It is estimated that around 1,500 million liters of oil are lost each year due to leakage into the waters all over the world. This results in a considerable amount of pollution being released into the environment on a worldwide scale because of the presence of harmful substances in oil, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which can have a poisonous or even a mutagenic effect on organisms. But an international research team consisting of members from the universities of Stuttgart and Tubingen, as well as those from the China West Normal University and the University of Georgia, has been investigating a novel technique that has some ambitious objectives in mind.

Continue reading down below.

Does the Use of Biosurfactants Support the Microbiological Oil Degradation Process in the North Sea?

Oil spills, particularly devastating ones that end up resulting in the fast release of massive quantities of oil into the seas, such as tanker accidents or events at petroleum exploration platforms like Deepwater Horizon in 2010, are extremely damaging. And it is necessary for us to acknowledge this and raise awareness.

When looking for ways to clean up oil spills that are less harmful to the environment, biosurfactants may prove to be an effective substitute for chemical dispersants. But why is it so? It would appear that microorganisms are the source of biosurfactants, which have the power to boost the bioavailability of oil constituents. Even better this can therefore improve the decomposition of microbial oil, which is essential for the purifying process.

Our investigations using radioactively labeled hydrocarbons or a radioactively labeled amino acid showed that the highest rates of microbial hydrocarbon oxidation and protein synthesis occurred in the oil microcosms treated with rhamnolipid, explained Prof. Lu Lu, who works at the China West Normal University.

The researchers at the University of Tubingen carried out experiments in which they recreated the effects of an oil spill. They collected more than a hundred liters of surface-level water from an area of the North Sea near the island of Helgoland to use in their experiment. And here’s something genuinely intriguing!

Both with and without oil present, the seawater got treated by using the biosurfactant rhamnolipid or a dispersant agent (either Corexit 9500/ Slickgone NS). The treatment was carried out in both conditions. The team of researchers made use of radioactive markers so that they could keep a close eye on the oil as it was broken down by the microbes.

The findings, as interpreted by the researchers, indicate that biosurfactants have a significant potential for use in the event of subsequent oil spills in the North Sea or in other ocean ecosystems with similar levels of nutrient richness. The research will be carried on in the hopes of gaining further results and insights.

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