Bioremediation Types and Bioremediation of Oil Spills

bioremediation of oil spills

In Situ Bioremediation


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Bioremediation of Oil Spills can't be discussed without mentioning In Situ Bioremediation which  is the use of living organisms for the recovery/cleaning up of a contaminated medium such as soil, sediment, air, or water. "Remediate" means to solve a problem and "bioremediate" means to use biological organisms to solve an environmental problem such as contaminated soil or groundwater. or Bioremediation is the use of microorganisms (e.g., bacteria, fungi), plants (termed phytoremediation), or biological enzymes to achieve treatment of hazardous waste.

The idea of bioremediation has become increasingly popular in this 21st century for instance  Nigeria Popularly Known as the giant of Africa,  a country with the biggest population in Africa blessed with abundant diverse natural resources of which it is well known for petroleum  production and exportation.

Oil producing countries like Nigeria over times has experienced economic boom in its economy as a result of high demand of this product.

As it is natural for Humans to explore; the exploration of oil  by various companies in this oil producing countries has done more harm than good to the environment.

Environmental pollution is one of the basic challenges of modern day society, Man has polluted his environment through its actions directly or indirectly  and man is in desperate need to fix his depleted environment.

Over times man has engaged several control measures to salvage his environment. To create an eco friendly habitat; most of this measures has yielded little or no effect to the  environment..most of these measures are capital intensive and bogus.

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In modern day society Oil spillage has become man's number one  nightmare..these oil spillages and other forms of environmental pollution has yielded to the discovery of Bioremediation

A good case study worth noting is in 2010 when Bioremediation was used extensively to combat the devastating effects of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 and BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010. During this oil spills, microorganisms were used to consume petroleum hydrocarbons and played a significant role in reducing the environmental impact.

Bioremediation technologies utilize naturally occurring microorganisms, such as bacteria, fungi, and yeast, to degrade hazardous substances into non-toxic or less toxic substances.  Bioremediation technologies also are applied to contaminated wastewater, ground or surface waters, soils, sediments, and air where there has been either accidental or intentional release of pollutants or chemicals that pose a risk to human, animal, or ecosystem health.

The process of bioremediation might involve the introduction of new organisms to a site or the adjustment of environmental conditions to enhance degradation rates of indigenous fauna.

Bioremediation Types and Bioremediation of Oil Spills

  • In situ Bioremediation
  • Ex Situ Bioremediation

Ex Situ Bioremediation

Ex situ bioremediation requires excavation or pumping of contaminated soil or groundwater, respectively, before treatment is initiated also ex situ techniques are generally easier to control, faster, and able to treat a wider range of contaminants and soil types than in situ techniques.

Bioremediation of Oil Spills

In situ Bioremediation

In situ bioremediation technology was originally developed as a less costly, more effective alternative to the standard pump-and-treat methods used to clean up aquifers and soils contaminated with organic chemicals (e.g., fuel hydrocarbons, chlorinated solvents), but has since expanded in breadth to address explosives, inorganics (e.g., nitrates), and toxic metals (e.g., chromium).  in  Bioremediation of  Oil spills , has the potential to provide advantages such as complete destruction of the contaminant(s), lower risk to site workers, and lower equipment/operating costs.

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 Bioremediation of Oil Spills

One way to categorize ISB is by the type of metabolism involved.  The two high-level categories of metabolism are aerobic and anaerobic.  The target metabolism for an ISB system will depend on the contaminants of concern.  Some contaminants (e.g., fuel hydrocarbons) are degraded via an aerobic pathway, some anaerobically (e.g., carbon tetrachloride), and some contaminants can be biodegraded under either aerobic or anaerobic conditions (e.g., trichloroethene).

Advantages of In Situ Bioremediation

  • Accelerated In Situ Bioremediation can provide volumetric treatment, treating both dissolved and sorbed contaminant.
  • It may be possible to completely transform organic contaminants to innocuous substances (e.g., carbon dioxide, water, ethane).
  • In situ bioremediation often costs less than other remedial options.
  • The time required to treat subsurface pollution using accelerated in situ bioremediation can often be faster than pump-and-treat processes.
  • The areal zone of treatment using bioremediation can be larger than with other remedial technologies because the treatment moves with the plume and can reach areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.
  • As an in situ (versus ex situ) technology, there is reduced potential for cross-media transfer of contaminants
  • As an in situ (versus ex situ) technology, there is reduced risk of human exposure to contaminated media
  • As an in situ (versus ex situ) technology, there is typically little secondary waste generated


In conclusion Bioremediation provides a good cleanup strategy for various types of pollution.

Advantages of  Bioremediation

  • Bioremediation is generally less disruptive to the environment than excavation-based processes;
  • The cost of treating a hazardous waste site using bioremediation technologies can be considerably lower than that for conventional treatment methods. and
  • Biologically-based remediation detoxifies hazardous substances instead of merely transferring contaminants from one environmental medium to another;
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