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Electrobioremediation of oil spills

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Angela SherryORCiD, Dr Ana Suarez Suarez, Professor Ian Head


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Annually, thousands of oils spills occur across the globe. As a result, petrochemical compounds are widespread contaminants causing concern due to their toxicity and recalcitrance. Many remediation strategies have been developed using both physicochemical and biological approaches. Biological strategies are most benign, aiming to overcome microbial metabolic limitations by supplying limiting inorganic nutrients, electron acceptors or donors, thus stimulating oxidation or reduction of contaminants. A key issue is controlling the supply of electron donors/acceptors. Recently bioelectrochemical systems (BES) have emerged in which electrical current serves as either electron donor or acceptor for the cleanup of oil spills. BESs are highly controllable and have the additional benefit that they can also serve as biosensors for real time monitoring of the degradation process. Despite their promise for bioremediation, multiple aspects need to be considered to make BES suitable for field applications including system design, electrode materials, operational parameters, mode of action and radius of influence. The microbiological processes involved in bioelectrochemical contaminant degradation are currently not fully understood, particularly in relationship to electron transfer mechanisms. Especially in sulfate rich environments the sulfur cycle appears pivotal during hydrocarbon oxidation. This review provides a comprehensive analysis of the bioelectrochemical remediation of oil spills and of the key parameters involved in the process.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Daghio M, Aulenta F, Vaiopoulou E, Franzetti A, Arends J, Sherry A, Suárez-Suárez A, Head IM, Bestetti G, Rabaey K

Publication type: Review

Publication status: Published

Journal: Water Research

Year: 2017

Volume: 114

Pages: 351-370

Print publication date: 01/05/2017

Online publication date: 20/02/2017

Acceptance date: 14/02/2017

ISSN (print): 0043-1354

ISSN (electronic): 1879-2448


DOI: 10.1016/j.watres.2017.02.030