Experimental study of clay-hydrocarbon interactions relevant to the biodegradation of the Deepwater Horizon oil from the Gulf of Mexico

Warr, Laurence, Friese, André, Schwarz, Florian, Schauer, Frieder, Portier, Ralph, Basirico, Laura and Olson, Gregory (2016) Experimental study of clay-hydrocarbon interactions relevant to the biodegradation of the Deepwater Horizon oil from the Gulf of Mexico. Chemosphere, 162. pp. 208-221. ISSN 0045-6535

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chemosphere.2016.07.07...


Adding clay to marine oil pollution represents a promising approach to enhance bacterial hydrocarbon degradation in nutrient poor waters. In this study, three types of regionally available clays (Ca-bentonite, Fuller's Earth and kaolin) were tested to stimulate the biodegradation of source and weathered oil collected from the Deepwater Horizon spill. The weathered oil showed little biodegradation prior to experimentation and was extensively degraded by bacteria in the laboratory in a similar way as the alkane-rich source oil. For both oils, the addition of natural clay-flakes showed minor enhancement of oil biodegradation compared to the non-clay bearing control, but the clay-oil films did limit evaporation. Only alkanes of a molecular weight (MW) > 420 showed significant reduction by enhanced biodegradation following natural clay treatment. In contrast, all fertilized clay flakes showed major bacterial degradation of the oil, with a 6–10 times reduction in alkane content, and an up to 8 fold increase in the rate of O2 consumption. Compared to the control, such treatment showed particular reduction of longer chained alkanes (MW > 226). The application of natural and fertilized clay flakes also showed selective reduction of PAHs, mainly in the MW range of 200–300, but without significant change in the toxicity indices measured. These results imply that a large variety of clays may be used to boost oil biodegradation by aiding attachment of fertilizing nutrients to the oil.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: hydrocarbons, pollution, biodegradation, clay, deepwater horizon, toxicity
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
Depositing User: Ay Okpokam
Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2016 15:03
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2017 14:37
URI: http://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/27572

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