Biosurfactant production and applications in oil contaminate control

Cai, Qinhong (2019) Biosurfactant production and applications in oil contaminate control. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Surfactants are a versatile group of chemicals. They are amphiphilic compounds that exert impacts at interfaces among air, water, oil, and solid phases. Currently, the prevalent players in the market are chemically synthesized surfactants, which have concerns of considerable toxicity and low biodegradability. Because they are mainly derived from fossil fuels, they are not sustainable in the long run and the production costs are subjected to the price variance of raw materials. In view of these limitations, biosurfactants have been proposed as promising alternatives. They are surfactant molecules produced by microorganisms during their growth. Biosurfactants exist naturally in the environment and play some roles in the ecosystem even without human interferences. In this dissertation we define this virtue as “environmental friendly”. They are also renewable and non/less toxic. They have also been found with the intriguing advantages such as enormous structural diversity, lower critical micellar concentrations (CMCs), and the feasibility to use renewable and/or waste streams as the source of production. Biosurfactants are considered as multifunctional biomolecules of the 21st century with a thriving global market share. Their applications in environmental and oil industries are among the top market sectors thanks to their environmental friendly nature. In order to harness the power of biosurfactants, the economic effectiveness of production of these molecules needs improvements. The inocula/microorganisms are the engine of a production process, which determine the maximum yield potential and the functionality of biosurfactants, yet limited inocula have been reported. The functional diversity of biosurfactants includes emulsification, dissolution, dispersion, emulsion breaking, reduction in viscosity, and surface activity, which result in a broad spectrum of potential applications in oil contaminate control including soil washing, enhanced bioremediation, oily wastewater treatment, and spilled oil dispersion. However, limited research efforts have been placed into evaluating the application potential of biosurfactants in oil contaminate control. The objectives of this thesis are to 1) identify novel and robust biosurfactant producing microorganisms and develop hyper-production mutants; 2) examine the functionality of the produced biosurfactants; and 3) investigate the potential of using these produced biosurfactants in diverse applications of oil contaminate control. The outputs of the thesis include: (1) the successful isolation, identification, characterization and functionality analysis of one-hundred-and-fourteen biosurfactant producing and oil degrading marine bacteria; (2) the discovery of a novel bacterial species, Alcanivorax atlaticus for the first time and its proposed type strain with comprehensive genotype and phenotype characterizations; (3) an in-depth characterization, functionality analysis and application demonstration of a novel bioemulsifier (exmulsins) and its bacterium (Exiguobacterium sp. N4-1P); (4) reporting of thirty-seven novel oil-in-water emulsion breaking marine bacteria for oily wastewater treatment, and a recommended screening strategy for their identification; (5) the first attempt to genetically modify Rhodococcus strains for hyper production of biosurfactant and to investigate the dispersing abilities of the the produced biosurfactants; and (6) a comprehensive investigation of 4 types of biosurfactants produced from selected isolates and mutants as marine oil spill dispersants.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 13695
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 221-260).
Department(s): Engineering and Applied Science, Faculty of
Date: May 2019
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Biosurfactants--Synthesis; Biosurfactants--Industrial applications

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