Finding recipes for removing oil spill

Finding recipes for removing oil spill

March 12, 2007

Norut Technology is underway with the development of recipes for treatment of oil-contaminated soil with microbial action. The method is both cheaper and more effective than earlier treatment methods.

Fifteen buckets with oil contaminated soil are placed in a laboratory at the NarvikUniversityCollege. They have had biological components added to them, based on different recipes, and are kept at a temperature between 10 and 15 °C to simulate a typical northern Norwegian summer.

Norut Technology is underway with a trial to improve recipes for treatment of oil-contaminated soil. After 95 days nearly halv of the oil has been removed by some of the recipes.

There are already many products available for this type of cleaning, but they are relatively expensive and it can take a long time for the soil to recover. Some of the products consist of chemicals, but researchers have reported that local bacteria and natural products can perform well.

- The project is very interesting, says researcher Ross Wakelin, who is performing the trials. ? It is quite amazing what can be used to break down the oil. We have tested recipes that include fish meal, cooking oil, sewage sludge and orange peel, he explains.

Help for the microbes

Soil contains microbes (microorganisms, like bacteria) which, amongst other things, break down dead material. When the soil is contaminated with oil the microbes often do not manage to break down the oil, for example if they do not manage to come in contact with the oil, or if they lack essential nutrients.

The challenge for preparing a recipe for breaking down the oil is to find the right balance between nutrients, oxygen, water and heat.

Faster results to lower price

It was Arctic Spill Control Ltd. who engaged Norut Technology to test the new recipes. Arctic Spill Control provides services within the treatment of contaminated ground and water through biological decomposition.

- We have obtained the answers to some questions, but also got some more questions. The most pleasing is that with the new recipes we can achieve better efficiency to a lower price, says a satisfied Thor Ivar Solberg from Arctic Spill Control.

- But from experience we know that those that start fastest are not always those that are first to cross the finish line, he adds.

The project is financed by the NT (Innovation and Technology) programme in Northern Norway.

Contact person

Research Scientist Ross Wakelin