Efficiency of lipopeptide biosurfactants in removal of petroleum hydrocarbons and heavy metals from contaminated soil

Anil Kumar Singh, Swaranjit Singh Cameotra
Environmental Science and Pollution Research International 2013, 20 (10): 7367-76
This study describes the potential application of lipopeptide biosurfactants in removal of petroleum hydrocarbons and heavy metals from the soil samples collected from industrial dumping site. High concentrations of heavy metals (like iron, lead, nickel, cadmium, copper, cobalt and zinc) and petroleum hydrocarbons were present in the contaminated soil samples. Lipopeptide biosurfactant, consisting of surfactin and fengycin was obtained from Bacillus subtilis A21. Soil washing with biosurfactant solution removed significant amount of petroleum hydrocarbon (64.5 %) and metals namely cadmium (44.2 %), cobalt (35.4 %), lead (40.3 %), nickel (32.2 %), copper (26.2 %) and zinc (32.07 %). Parameters like surfactant concentration, temperature, agitation condition and pH of the washing solution influenced the pollutant removing ability of biosurfactant mixture. Biosurfactant exhibited substantial hydrocarbon solubility above its critical micelle concentration. During washing, 50 % of biosurfactant was sorbed to the soil particles decreasing effective concentration during washing process. Biosurfactant washed soil exhibited 100 % mustard seed germination contradictory to water washed soil where no germination was observed. The results indicate that the soil washing with mixture of lipopeptide biosurfactants at concentrations above its critical micelle concentration can be an efficient and environment friendly approach for removing pollutants (petroleum hydrocarbon and heavy metals) from contaminated soil.

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