Rapid biological clean-up of soils contaminated with lubricating oil

B. E. Rittmann, N. M. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


An experimental program assessed with mechanisms control the rapid biodegradation of used lubricating oil which contaminates soils. The ultimate goal is to effect a rapid biodegradation before the contaminants in the oil are leached into the groundwater or carried into surface waters with runoff. Large amount of lubricating-oil-degrading bacteria could be grown in liquid culture, as long as a dispersant was applied to form and maintain an oil-in-water emulsion. Application of the oil-degrading bacteria (up to 4.9 x 108/g soil) significantly increased the initial rate of oil degradation in soil plots. However, the longterm rate of degradation slowed as the more available or more biodegradable components of the oil were removed. The fastest removal rates were obtained when the oil-contamined soil was put into water-soil slurry and was inoculated with microorganisms and dispersant. Improved microorganism contact and dispersant effectiveness apparently were responsible for the rapid rates in slurry reactors. The increased rates demonstrated the potential value of adding a large, acclimated inoculum and providing good mixing and dispersion to make the oil more available to the microorganisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-219
Number of pages11
JournalWater Science and Technology
Issue number4-5 -5 pt 1
StatePublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes
EventProceedings of the Fourteenth Biennial Conference of the International Association on Water Pollution Research and Control. Part 1 - Brighton, Engl
Duration: Jul 18 1988Jul 21 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology


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