(584j) Bacteria Encapsulated Dispersants: Novel Technique for Oil Spill Bioremediation

Authors: 
Gupta, A. - Presenter, Texas A&M International University


Bacteria encapsulated dispersants: novel technique for oil spill bioremediation

Anju Gupta* and Monica Martinez

Texas A&M International University, Laredo, Texas

The most efficient way to clean up an oil spill in oceans is via microbial degradation. This project proposes a novel microbe-encapsulated dispersant system to enhance the natural process of bioremediation of an oil slick in the ocean. The use of dispersants to counter the effects of oil spill has gained a lot of attention due to their lower toxicity to aquatic life and ability to disperse heavy oil. Oil dispersants can reduce the surface tension between oil-water interfaces resulting in oil droplet formation that can easily be accessed by oil-eating-bacteria. Addition of hydrocarbon-degrading bacteria, also known as seeding has often been considered, but has not been reported to be effective. This project proposes a novel idea of combining the seeding and dispersion approaches of oil spill bioremediation. The dispersant system proposed in this project to disperse the oil and increase the population of oil-eating-microbes is both biocompatible and economical. Phospholipids/shear-responsive polymer mixtures will be used to form vesicles with large aqueous core to encapsulate hydrocarbon-degrading microbial culture. Shear produced by the waves, will result in destabilized dispersants releasing the encapsulated bacteria to the oil/water system. Lipids will disperse the layer of oil into tiny droplets that can be easily accessed by bacteria. Lipids from the destabilized dispersants will also serve as a nutrient source of nitrogen and phosphorus to bacteria.