There is interest in cleaning up hydrocarbon contaminated sites via bioremediation as the process is environmentally friendly and sustainable. However, some of the bioremediation methods are very slow and expensive, often limited by the availability of electron acceptors and nutrients. Furthermore, electron flow is difficult to control. These major hurdles could be overcome with bioelectrochemical systems. The aim of this project is to develop and test bioelectrochemical systems-based petroleum hydrocarbon remediation technologies at laboratory scale in environmentally-relevant conditions with a view for field deployment.
Methods and results*
Bioelectrochemical systems for the treatment of target petroleum hydrocarbons in a more effective, efficient and sustainable manner will be developed and evaluated for their performance. The hypothesis is that electrodes inserted in soil/sediments/groundwater could increase oxidant delivery to support anaerobic biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons in the respective matrices, thereby, speeding up bioremediation and minimising and/or eliminating the need for energy and chemicals.
Findings from the study would be useful in remediating sites contaminated with petroleum hydrocarbons e.g. the ones in Ogoniland, Niger Delta region of Nigeria.
Significance of study*
This study will contribute to the development of an environmentally sustainable, efficient and low-cost solution that requires no or minimal chemical additives for the remediation of petroleum hydrocarbons pollutants that are a threat to human health and the environment. The processes developed are expected to be better than natural attenuation as well as typical bioremediation processes like landfarming.
United Nations Environment Programme UNEP, (2011) Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland [Online] Available at: http://postconflict.unep.ch/publications/OEA/UNEP_OEA.pdf Accessed on 5/2/2020
Wang X, Aulenta F, Puig S, Esteve-Nunez A, He Y, Mu Y, Rabaey K. 2020. Microbial electrochemistry for bioremediation. Environmental Science and Ecotechnology. 1: 100013.