Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (e.g. anthracene, phenanthrene, benzopyrene) can enter the soil with flue gases around oil refineries, oil pipelines and forest fires. These are slowly degradable, resistant materials, some of which are carcinogenic. Waste treatment companies undertake biodegradation treatment of soil up to a concentration of 5 mg / kg PAH and above this cc they deposit them as hazardous waste. New methods of regenerating PAH contaminated soils are being intensively researched around the world, mainly to remove PAH from soil by targeted microbiological degradation. In this project, two industrial participants and two large universities in Budapest combine their interdisciplinary resources to develop a worldwide new, marketable, soil bioremediation method for degradation of significant PAH molecules. The chemists, molecular biologists, microbiologists, bioinformatics, and mathematicians involved in the project are developing a new metagenomic, microbiological and enzymological approach. They are examining DNA sequences of naturally occurring microorganisms (metagenomic approach) and important enzymes present in microorganisms isolated from PAH contaminated soils. The innovative core of the project is the observation that PAH degrading enzymes present in bacteria can be described and produced without identifying the individual bacteria. Combined application of the new PAH degrading enzymes and PAH degrading micro-organisms (vaccines) will allow to remediate PAH contaminated soils that have been hopeless so far. Quantitative technology is being developed to monitor the soil function of the new vaccines. The newly developed technology will be globally marketable. Another significant result of the project is the complex evaluation of the developed technologies, the determination of the ecological footprint at the end of the term.
Development of starter culture for remediation of various hydrocarbons, preparation and testing of the scaled-up prototype
Project promoter: Fermentia Mikrobiológiai Kft
Project partners: Eötvös Lóránd Tudományegyetem, Természettudományi kar, Mikrobiológiai Tanszék
Donor partners: Dynea AS. Korlátolt Felelősségű Társaság
Volatile short-chain halogenated aliphatic hydrocarbons are one of the most serious environmental pollutants of the 20th century industry. Chlorinated short-chain aliphatic hydrocarbons (trichloroethene, vinyl-chloride, etc.) are among the most common contaminants of groundwaters. These various solvents can penetrate below the groundwater level in soils thereby endangering drinking water reservoirs. The extremely toxic pollution can spread to the depth in the environment causing contamination which can persist for decades. In-situ biological remediation could be a feasible technique to degrade these by stimulating microbes involved in decomposition processes. Fermentia Ltd., Eötvös L. University Department of Microbiology and Dynea Hungary Ltd. established a consortium in 2013 in order to produce area specific inoculum and technologies used for bioremediation of contaminated areas. The research team isolated microbial consortia from tetrachloroethene and trichloroethene contaminated groundwaters. Laboratory scale adaptation and enrichment of the isolated microbial communities were performed using microcosm experiments. Laboratory scale dechlorinating consortia capable of completed halogenation were scaled-up from 100 ml to 100 litre volume. The microbial community of the developed inocula is capable of complete biodegradation of the various ethenes to non-toxic ethene and hydrochloric acid. The main purpose of the developed and improved inocula and bioremediation technology is to reduce short-chain halogenated hydrocarbon contamination of soils and groundwater in order to protect soils and drinking water sources of great importance for the environment.