Title page for ETD etd-81898-121611

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Fallon, Agata M.
Author's Email Address afallon@vt.edu
URN etd-81898-121611
Title Study of Hydrocarbon Waste Biodegradation and the Role of Biosurfactants in the Process
Degree Master of Science
Department Environmental Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Novak, John T. Committee Chair
Love, Nancy G. Committee Member
Widdowson, Mark A. Committee Member
  • bio-surfactants
  • waste oil
  • batch systems
  • polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons
  • biodegradation
  • hydrocarbon degradation
Date of Defense 1998-08-21
Availability unrestricted
Two types of oily waste sludges generated by a railroad

maintenance facility were studied to reduce the volume of

hydrocarbon waste. The specific goals of this laboratory

study were to evaluate rate and extent of microbial

degradation, benefits of organism addition, role of

biosurfactant, and dewatering properties.

The oily waste sludges differed in characteristics and

contained a mixture of water, motor oil, lubricating oil,

and other petroleum products. Degradation was measured

using COD, suspended solids, GC measurements of extractable

material, and nonextractable material concentration.

Biosurfactant production was characterized using surface

tension and polysaccharide measurements.

Degradation of ten percent waste oil showed that

the removal in a 91 day experiment was 75 percent for COD

and suspended solids, 98 percent for extractable oil, and

negligible for non-extractable material. It was concluded

that methylene chloride extraction could be used to

estimate degradation potential of a hydrocarbon waste.

Addition of organisms increased the rate and extent of

degradation over 22 days, but did not provide any benefits

over 91 days.

Data suggested that microorganisms degraded simple

compounds first, then produced biosurfactants. It was

thought that the biosurfactants remained attached to the

organism membrane and increased solubility, stimulating

the degradation of difficult to degrade waste oil. After

oil was degraded the biosurfactants became ineffective.

The dewatering properties of 10 percent oily sludge

deteriorated with the production of biosurfactant and

improved after the surfactant was degraded due to changes

in oil solubility.

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