Bioremediation for WWT in Petrochemical Industries
The petrochemical industry is one of the fastest growing industries which contributes significantly to the growth of world economies. However, different refinery activities such as equipment cooling and desalting which involves water results in the generation of effluents. Also, an extensive amount of hazardous waste consisting of organic and inorganic compounds are left behind, which needs treatment.
Petroleum, a mixture of hydrocarbons and organic compounds, has caused soil and water contamination through accidental spills, unregulated waste dumping and untreated wastewater disposal. Moreover, the ineffective treatment methods combined with the burden on treatment plants due to overload of wastewater poses one of the greatest risks to the environment. It can be detrimental for the aquatic living beings, plants, animals and sometimes the human population living nearby.
Thus, petroleum contamination is a worldwide environmental issue which needs urgent attention and innovative solutions. Bioremediation is one of the best methods and a sustainable solution to treat contaminants and pollutants in soil and water without affecting other constituents of the environment.
Read more: Bioremediation Of Soil Using Microorganisms And Cleaning the Environment
Bioremediation process use living biological microorganisms to break down contaminants, toxins and pollutants in the hazardous waste and converts them into harmless substances such as carbon dioxide and water. Both aerobic and anaerobic micro-organisms are used for the breakdown process in the presence and absence of oxygen, respectively. In wastewater treatment plants, bioremediation is integrated into the biological treatment stage, and helps in the degradation of organic pollutants. It plays a vital role in treating wastewater in bioreactors as well. Bioremediation is an effective solution for soil remediation, land remediation and bio-filtration of air.
As bioremediation involves natural living organisms, it is widely preferred over traditional chemical treatment methods which are known to have a negative impact on the environment. Thus, bioremediation is an important part of initiatives like Green Development, Sustainability and for achieving bio-economy goals. Moreover, it has better economic value, less technology techniques and more public acceptance.
Bioremediation in Petrochemical Industries
In petrochemical industries across the world, various products are manufactured. Depending on the different processes and practices, refineries release various types of pollutants. It has been observed that petroleum contains a large quantity of oil compounds like wax, dissolved minerals such as heavy metals, dissolved organic compounds like phenol, acids and inorganic compounds. Additionally, carbon dioxide gases in dissolved form and hydrogen sulphide are also present. All these elements contaminate soil and water resources. Petroleum hydrocarbon contaminants present in the effluent can be broken down into 4 classes including the aromatics , the saturates , the asphaltenes (ketones , esters , phenols , fatty acids and porphyrins) and resins. Breakdown of these is limited to the availability of microorganisms as well as their susceptibility to microbial attack.
Microbes naturally present in the environment, from time immemorial, have been feeding on the oil matter by degrading fats, fatty acids and glycerol into simpler compounds. A few bacterial genera that have proved to be potential hydrocarbon degrading microorganisms include Aeromicrobium , Gordonia , Brevibacterium and Mycoabacteirum, which have been isolated and studied from petroleum contaminated soil. But the enormous rate of petroleum contamination cannot be treated by naturally occurring microorganisms. Thus, years of research and studies on bioremediation has helped in developing specific microbial community using synthetic biology.
It is interesting to note that the first oil-eating bacteria known as Pseudomonas was patented five decades back in 1971 by Dr. Anand Chakraborty. Since then, big developments have taken place with regards to the bioremediation of petrochemical effluents. Consequently, various studies have shown the benefits of bioremediation using microbial community. A study was done on the refinery wastewater containing Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon and contaminated with high saline conditions. The results showed 90% degradation of pyrene and complete removal of fluorene and phenanthrene when microbes were used.
To have an effective and efficient wastewater treatment process in petrochemical industries today, a mixed population of microbes can be used to increase effectiveness through synchronized influence (quorum sensing). Recently, the microbial metabolic potential of the mixed microbial consortium is found to be useful for detoxifying wastewater. Thus, bioremediation is the best method for wastewater treatment in petrochemical industries to release harmless effluent into the environment.
Organica Biotech is one of the leading companies with effective bioremediation solutions. Cleanmaxx FOG is an advanced microbial treatment solution for treating effluents containing fats, oil and grease. It contains a specially designed consortium of high enzyme-producing microbes that aggressively decompose fats, oils and grease and prevent scum formation by maximum degradation of FOGs from the system. The emanation of odour from treatment systems due to the rancidification of oils can also be prevented with Cleanmaxx FOG. It is an eco-friendly, safe and effective solution for WWT in petrochemical industries.