Improving the sustainability of fossil fuel

Fossil Fuel Dependency

Gasoline Bioremediation

While global modern society has an absolute need for energy and military protection, these activities bear a high environmental price.

Although the use of non-traditional energy sources such as bioethanol, solar, and wind will increase substantially over the next two decades, it is predicted that these will account for less than 10% of the total energy demand by 2030. Thus, global reliance on fossil energy will likely continue as the dominant source of transportation fuels in the near future.

Aside from greenhouse gas production, fossil fuel utilization also poses continued significant risks to our environment through soil and water contamination, in addition to the environmental damage associated with oil production from reservoirs both on- and off-shore.  Previous and ongoing research in my group has focused on the development of microbial technologies and bioremediation strategies to limit the impact of fossil energy.

In 2001 we isolated and characterized the first organism capable of the biodegradation of various toxic and carcinogenic components of gasoline in the absence of oxygen.  We identified the underlying biochemistry of this metabolism and together with an environmental remediation firm in Illinois, United Science Industries, we performed pilot scale field treatments of soils contaminated with petroleum.  These pilot studies were based on the in-situ application of the isolated organism Dechloromonas strain RCB.  Lab scale studies indicated that the organism was not indigenous to the environment to be treated, but when added it effectively removed the target contaminant, benzene, from the polluted soil.  Our initial field trial results demonstrated better than 80% removal of benzene within ten days of application.