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Biodegradation and bioremediation

“… the growth of bacterial cultures does not constitute a specialized subject or branch of research; it is the basic method of microbiology…” -  Jaques Monod (mister Bacteriology)

Microbial uptake and conversion of compounds from the local environment is continuously taking place in any niche in the biosphere. In fact, can you imagine a world devoid of the relentlessly transformation of chemicals done by the enormous mass, number and cellular variants known as bacteria?

Biodegradation is the microbially catalysed process of converting complex organic molecules into products. Often this term is linked to the uptake and metabolic conversion of toxic compounds to non-toxic end products. Our focus is on biodegradation of petroleum hydrocarbons and production chemicals under deep-water conditions (Predeg), and similarily on biodegradation of these compounds in cold marine climates (Coldeg). In addition, we study degradation of priority organics, such as PAH, PCB, Brominated Flame Retardents, Softeners and surfactants in wastewater treatment systems (POP07), also potential degradation under anaerobic sludge treatment processes (POP-ana). Our research is aimed at generating data for estimation of stoichiometric coefficients and biodegradation rates of open culture communities, and through this provide relevant biodegradation models for single or lumped compounds under defined growth conditions. We use state of the art incubation methods combined with advanced analytical techniques for determination of all key compounds in the macro-stoichiometric growth equation. This includes low level respirometry, isotope methods, flow cytometry and advanced microscopic techniques, and substrate chemical analysis (chromatography and mass spectroscopy).

Finally, we cooperate with industry partners on projects aimed at developing methodologies and techniques for enhanced biodegradation of pollutants in the environment (Bioremediation), for example operational optimization of biofilm reactor technologies for removal of oil in industrial wastewater (slop oil removal) in cooperation with SAR Treatment, and experiences using post-anaerobic composting of wastewater sludge for enhanced removal of priority organics, improved dewatering and odour properties and secondary sludge mass reduction.

Contact person: Roald Kommedal