Microbial surfactant-enhanced mineral oil recovery under laboratory conditions

N K Bordoloi, B K Konwar
Colloids and Surfaces. B, Biointerfaces 2008 May 1, 63 (1): 73-82
Microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) is potentially useful to recover incremental oil from a reservoir being beyond primary and secondary recovery operations. Effort has been made to isolate and characterize natural biosurfactant produced by bacterial isolates collected from various oil fields of ONGC in Assam. Production of biosurfactant has been considered to be an effective major index for the purpose of enhanced oil recovery. On the basis of the index, four promising bacterial isolates: Pseudomonas aeruginosa (MTCC7815), P. aeruginosa (MTCC7814), P. aeruginosa (MTCC7812) and P. aeruginosa (MTCC8165) were selected for subsequent testing. Biosurfactant produced by the promising bacterial isolates have been found to be effective in the recovery of crude oil from saturated column under laboratory conditions. Two bacterial strains: P. aeruginosa (MTCC7815) and P. aeruginosa (MTCC7812) have been found to be the highest producer of biosurfactant. Tensiometer studies revealed that biosurfactants produced by these bacterial strains could reduce the surface tension (sigma) of the growth medium from 68 to 30 mN m(-1) after 96 h of growth. The bacterial biosurfactants were found to be functionally stable at varying pH (2.5-11) conditions and temperature of 100 degrees C. The treatment of biosurfactant containing, cell free culture broth in crude oil saturated sand pack column could release about 15% more crude oil at 90 degrees C than at room temperature and 10% more than at 70 degrees C under laboratory condition.

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