Using bacteria to clean up oil •

Using bacteria to clean up oil


Cleaning up oil using bacteria Today’s Video of the Day from the American Chemical Society describes how bacteria could potentially be used to help clean up oil spills. 

After the Deepwater Horizon disaster, oil continued to spill into the ocean for three months. As experts were trying to get the situation under control, bacteria were already helping to eliminate oil in the ocean by absorbing and metabolizing it. 

Bacteria can also remove other harmful substances from the environment. For example, some species of bacteria can be used to soak up uranium, the radioactive element used in nuclear reactors. Other types of bacteria, meanwhile, could help us clean up oil spills by chowing down large quantities of oil. Say hello to marine microorganisms that can degrade several major chemical components of oil by using these hydrocarbons as a source of energy. By doing so, they can effectively assist in clean-ups following oil spills.

Microbes also have considerable potential when it comes to cleaning up the mess oil sometimes makes. “There are a wide variety of microbes that are able to degrade hydrocarbons in oil, (and) some are better at it than others,” Li said.

Video Credit: American Chemical Society 

By Chrissy Sexton, Staff Writer

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