Submitted to: Encyclopedia of Petroleum Science and Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/4/2003
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Of all the contaminants arising from industrial ativities petroleum hydrocarbons (PHC) are perhaps the best suited for bioremediation, a process whereby the organisms found in a given habitat degrade or detoxify dangerous chemicals. Plants carry out some bioremediation themselves but their main advantage is to provide a suitable environment for degradation of PHCs by microbes. Roots bring microbes into contact with PHCs and provide them with oxygen and other nutrients to stimulate their growth. Chemical reactions in the root zone modify PHCs to more strongly resemble plant compounds and, thus, hasten their rate of degradation by microbes that use these compounds as sources of energy and carbon.
Technical Abstract: Sustainable ecosystems can be designed to eliminate petroleum hydrocarbon (PHC) environmental contaminants through the direct and indirect consequences of plant and microbial activities. We present an approach to bioremediation of petroleum hydrocarbon (PHC) contaminants that utilizes plant-based amendment to enhance ecosystem productivity and physiochemical degradation, and the establishment of plants to serve as oxidizers and foundations for PHC-degrading microbial communities. Emphasis is given to mechanisms that enable PHC functionalization via reactive molecular species.