Biologists have discovered that sorption-biological treatments are the best way to clean northern soils contaminated by petroleum products. In order to do this, activated carbon is added into the soil. These substances bind harmful petroleum hydrocarbons, making them available for microorganisms to decompose. Bioremediation is a method that improves the ecological condition of soils affected by oil production or spillages. The results are published in the journal Microorganisms
Oil and petroleum products contaminate the soil and water reservoirs not only where they are extracted and processed, but also during storage and transportation. Potential sources of pollution include large industrial enterprises, oil depots, and gas stations. Oil-contaminated soil quickly degrades. It becomes a breeding ground for microorganisms. As a result, the soil’s physical and chemical properties decrease, and it is unable to heal itself. Bioremediation is the best way to clean polluted soils. This involves the decomposition of petroleum products by microorganisms. RUDN University biologists and colleagues from the Kola-Pushchinsky scientific centers compared how effective different bioremediation methods were for cleaning soils in the Murmansk (Russia).
” The most popular bioremediation methods include biostimulation which involves adding extra nutrients and carbon to stimulate microbial activity and bioaugmentation, which introduces petroleum-oxidizing microorganisms into the soil. Even in subarctic or arctic environments, the results of bioremediation are not always good. This is due to low biological activity in the northern regions of Russia, and high vulnerability of natural ecosystems. This problem can be solved by the technology of sorption-biological sol treatment, which uses a variety of sorbents. For example, activated carbon and peat can serve as a source of nitrogen and phosphorus and a place of localization of microorganisms-destructors, and they increase the moisture capacity and aeration of soils”, said Maria Korneykova, PhD, a researcher at RUDN laboratory “Smart technologies for sustainable development of urban environment in the conditions of global change, Deputy Director for Scientific Work of the Agrarian and Technological Institute of RUDN University
Soil scientists selected three experimental sites in the territory of the Murmansk region in the Pechengsky district, where soils were contaminated with petroleum products. There were three methods used to clean them: biostimulation (bioaugmentation) and sorption-biological purity. Mineral fertilizers were used in the first case to increase the activity of soil microorganisms. The second case involved native soil bacteria and soil fungi, which are the most effective at decomposing oil. In previous studies, RUDN biologists together with colleagues from the Kola Science Center determined that these are five strains of fungi of genus Penicillium and four strains of bacteria of genera Microbacterium and Pseudomonas. The soil was cleaned at the third site using a sorption-biological process. Organic (peat) as well as mineral (granular activated carb) sorbents were used to clean the soil.
During the 15 month of the experiment biostimulation decreased the amount of petroleum products within the soil by 47%, while petroleum-degrading microorganisms decreased it by 45%. The most efficient method was to use both activated carbon and peat for biological purification. It enabled the soil to be reduced in petroleum products by 65%. The microbial pool from peat also increased the diversity and number of soil microorganisms. This method proved to be more efficient than bioaugmentation.
” When we look at the time taken for hydrocarbons to decompose, we find that bioremediation speeds this process up by between 1.7 and 2.9 times. This is important for northern ecosystems. Peat will clean the most quickly, in 5.4 years. Without bioremediation, it will take about 16years. “Sorption-biological treatment is possible for the bioremediation in subarctic zones of contaminated sites, despite the harsh climatic conditions and high soil degradation,” Maria Korneykova of RUDN University
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