Major marine oil spills that leave residual pollutants have detrimental effects on the economy, tourism, as well as the marine environment in the long run. One solution is oil-eating microbes bioproducts developed with clean technology by the Center of Excellence in Microbial Technology for Marine Pollution Treatment, Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Chulalongkorn University, under the supervision of Associate Professor Dr. Onruthai Pinyakong.
"Usually, managing oil spills starts with physical methods, like oil booms, or oil dispersants followed by biodegradation, which is slow and unpredictable. So, if the biodegradation process can be accelerated, it should bring about major benefits," said Assoc. Prof. Dr. Onruthai who then turned to "oil-eating microbes".
Thailand — the source of quality and diverse microorganisms
To accelerate the biodegradation process, sufficient quantities of effective oil-eating microbes developed into bioproducts with a long shelf life must be used.
Thailand has high biodiversity -- a good source of pollutants-degrading microorganisms. Pollutant eating and biosurfactants producing microorganisms were thus selected from previously contaminated sites with high biodiversity such as marine sediments, sediments from mangrove forests, as well as water or soil contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons. They were then cultured and multiplied while ensuring that the isolated microorganisms are not pathogenic, and safe for users and the environment. The isolated toxins-digesting microbes, aka oil-eating microbes, were then developed into 3 types of lab products:
- Ready-to-use liquid formula suitable for contaminated sand or soil.
- Microbial product pellets suitable to treat contaminated soil or sand while promoting aeration and biodegradation.
- Microbial immobilization suitable for contaminated water.
Expanding research into industrial production
This research has received widespread feedback and support from both the public and private sectors who give much importance to the Bio-Circular-Green Economic Model which is in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.
If these bioproducts to clean marine oil spills can reach commercial-scale production and use, they will be part of the BCG Economy using truly clean technology, which the research team is ready to transfer to investors and interested parties to collaborate and develop in the future.
For more information, visit https://www.chula.ac.th/en/highlight/84839/