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Keywords:

  • acinetobacter;
  • adsorbent mat;
  • hair;
  • immobilized cells;
  • silica;
  • biosurfactant;
  • long-chain hydrocarbons

Abstract

The natural attenuation of hydrocarbons can be hindered by their rapid dispersion in the environment and limited contact with bacteria capable of oxidizing hydrocarbons. A functionalized composite material is described herein, that combines in situ immobilized alkane-degrading bacteria with an adsorbent material that collects hydrocarbon substrates, and facilitates biodegradation by the immobilized bacterial population. Acinetobacter venetianus 2AW was isolated for its ability to utilize hydrophobic n-alkanes (C10–C18) as the sole carbon and energy source. Growth of strain 2AW also resulted in the production of a biosurfactant that aided in the dispersion of complex mixtures of hydrophobic compounds. Effective immobilization of strain 2AW to the surface of Ottimat™ adsorbent hair mats via vapor phase deposition of silica provided a stable and reproducible biocatalyst population that facilitates in situ biodegradation of n-alkanes. Silica-immobilized strain 2AW demonstrated ca. 85% removal of 1% (v/v) tetradecane and hexadecane within 24 h, under continuous flow conditions. The methodology for immobilizing whole bacterial cells at the surface of an adsorbent, for in situ degradation of hydrocarbons, has practical application in the bioremediation of oil in water emulsions. Published 2011 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Biotechnol Prog., 2011