Can Oil and Gas Companies Use Microbes and BSOs to Improve the Environment?

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Pollution has degraded our environments and changed our climate. Some oil and gas companies should consider using microbes to help mitigate these effects. Image Source: Flickr User Dean Hochman

The Industrial Revolution heralded an age of scientific and technological advancement. However, as the number of factories expanded across the world, so too did the extent of industrial pollution.1 Industrial pollution is a major contributor to environmental degradation and thus, reducing pollution is of utmost importance to many governments, companies, and citizens. Generally, there are two methods for reducing industrial pollution:2 reducing the use of pollutants and/or treating the wastes or discharges of pollutants. However, to improve methods beyond today’s standards, scientists have noted that research priority should be given to “the use of microbes…because of their high efficiency relative to chemical or physical methods.”

Unsurprisingly, some companies have already begun to harness the power of microbes, especially in the oil and gas industries. For example, Luca Technologies is a startup that uses coal-digesting microbes to convert coal into methane that can then be used to generate electricity.3 Microbes are thus able to reduce coal’s “carbon footprint,” an especially powerful point given that carbon pollution is the “main contributor to climate disruption.”4 Similarly, some sulfate-reducing bacteria can reduce hydrocarbons and could potentially be used to clean contaminated soil or acidic mine waters. Thus, the oil and gas industries should consider how the use of microbes could be an important step in the right direction.

Going from an Idea to a Product

For those interested in using microbes in the oil and gas industry, the challenge lies in identifying the types of microbes that undergo specific reactions (e.g., digest coal or reduce sulfate), and knowing how they can be delivered to the reaction site and how their byproducts can be collected and used in other processes (such as when methane is produced). It’s also important to know how to carefully dispose of any byproducts, and of course what microbial methods have worked or failed.

Luckily, instead of relying on “legacy record-keeping systems,” BIOVIA has created BIOVIA Solution Offerings, which combines various aspects of data processing, reporting, and searching into a single, integrated system. Here are specific ways in which BIOVIA Solution Offerings can assist researchers in realizing the potential of using microbes to decrease the ecological impact of certain processes:

Experiment: Researchers have limited time, and monitoring research papers as well as the massive amount of past data generated by the efforts of oil and gas companies can be daunting. A centralized digital system, however, streamlines the record-keeping process, enabling oil and gas researchers to record and upload whatever they find important. With easily searchable functions (our product can search by ingredients, results, various parameters) scientists can also decrease the likelihood that they miss or unnecessarily repeat completed experiments, thus reducing experiment cycles and increasing the odds of pushing a successful product through the pipeline.

Collaboration: The use of BIOVIA Solution Offerings is also important for oil and gas companies because it promotes collaborative efforts while maintaining very tight security. For example, role-based permissions provide certain people with access to view or change data, while others do not. This is especially important because oil and gas companies will likely collaborate with firms, organizations, and academic institutions from around the world. Thus, the presence of a secure, centralized system will facilitate discussions and communication amongst these parties.

Moving Oil and Gas Forward with Efficient Tools

BIOVIA Solution Offerings is a complete software package that collects literature and past experiments to be visualized, thus reducing the number of physical experiments a researcher must perform. Additionally, Solution Offerings enables researchers to manage both their inventory and documents, so important papers can be uploaded and the contents brought to the attention of other workers.

Returning to microbes, identifying the various types one might want to use, as well as the feasibility of harnessing these bacteria to treat industrial wastes, is very important if we are to solve the problem of pollution. To determine how your company can harness the functions and capabilities of BIOVIA Solution Offerings to further pollution-curbing efforts, please contact us today.

  1. “Industrial Pollution,” NA, http://www.conserve-energy-future.com/causes-effects-of-industrial-pollution.php
  2. “Mission 2015: Biodiversity,” http://web.mit.edu/12.000/www/m2015/2015/solutions_for_industrial_pollution.html
  3. “Luca Tech feeds coal-eating microbes to make gas,” August 6, 2010, http://www.cnet.com/news/luca-tech-feeds-coal-eating-microbes-to-make-gas/
  4. “Carbon Pollution: An Urgent Threat from Coal,” http://content.sierraclub.org/coal/burning-carbon-pollution-and-climate-disruption

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