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Sci Total Environ. 2009 Jun 1;407(12):3634-40. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.07.008. Epub 2008 Aug 22.

Application of bioemulsifiers in soil oil bioremediation processes. Future prospects.

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Environmental Microbiological Research Group, Department of Microbiology, Institute of Water Research, University of Granada, C/ Ramón y Cajal no. 4. 18071, Granada, Spain.


Biodegradation is one of the primary mechanisms for elimination of petroleum and other hydrocarbon pollutants from the environment. It is considered an environmentally acceptable way of eliminating oils and fuel because the majority of hydrocarbons in crude oils and refined products are biodegradable. Petroleum hydrocarbon compounds bind to soil components and are difficult to remove and degrade. Bioemulsifiers can emulsify hydrocarbons enhancing their water solubility and increasing the displacement of oily substances from soil particles. For these reasons, inclusion of bioemulsifiers in a bioremediation treatment of a hydrocarbon polluted environment could be really advantageous. There is a useful diversity of bioemulsifiers due to the wide variety of producer microorganisms. Also their chemical compositions and functional properties can be strongly influenced by environmental conditions. The effectiveness of the bioemulsifiers as biostimulating agent in oil bioremediation processes has been demonstrated by several authors in different experimental assays. For example, they have shown to be really efficient in combination with other products frequently used in oil bioremediation such as they are inorganic fertilizer (NPK) and oleophilic fertilizer (i.e. S200C). On the other hand, the bioemulsifiers have shown to be more efficient in the treatment of soil with high percentage of clay. Finally, it has been proved their efficacy in other biotechnological processes such as in situ treatment and biopiles. This paper reviews literature concerning the application of bioemulsifiers in the bioremediation of soil polluted with hydrocarbons, and summarizes aspects of the current knowledge about their industrial application in bioremediation processes.

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