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Microbial Degradation and its Kinetics on Crude Oil Polluted Soil

Author Affiliations

  • 1Department of Chemistry, Ambrose Ali University, P.M.B 14, Ekpoma, Edo state, NIGERIA
  • 2 Chemistry department, Northumbria University, Newcastle Upon Tyne, U.K

Res.J.chem.sci., Volume 1, Issue (6), Pages 8-14, September,18 (2011)


A pilot study was conducted on soil simulated with crude oil to examine the effects of the hydrocarbon on soil properties, the potentials of exploring soil indigenous microbes and determining suitable conditions for effective degradation of the contaminant as well as evaluating the kinetics of the process. Soil collected from Agbor area of the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria was artificially spiked with 10% brent crude and studied. Control soil, simulated soil and treated soil were all characterised for pH, electrical conductivity, total organic carbon and matter, total nitrogen and phosphorus, texture and heavy metals(Cd, Pb, Ni, V and Cr) using standard analytical methods to determine the effect of crude oil pollution on these properties. Total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) was determined by measuring the amount of parent contaminant left in the soil at intervals in order to establish the efficiency and kinetics if the bioremediation process. Crude oil utilizing bacteria and fungi were also determined using standard microbiological procedures. Crude oil pollution caused a reduction in pH, conductivity and phosphorus level with significant effect in the growth rate of soil heterotrophic microbes, but however did not show any negative effect on the other properties. Crude oil did not affect the levels of the metals in the soil since the simulated soil showed lower metal concentration than the control soil, except for the remediation process which caused an increase in the concentration of Ni and V due to contributions of these metals from the animal waste used. The rate of microbial degradation was found to be dependent on availability of nutrient source and pH, as high biodegradation rate occasioned by an increase in microbial population was favoured between pH 6.7-9.6. Suitable pH condition and nutrient availability will enhance speedy microbial transformation of contaminant. A remediation efficiency of 81.69% was obtained on the sixth week indicating the efficiency and effectiveness of the process. The biodegradation process followed first order with a rate constant of 0.035day-1. Biodegradation isotherm was found to be minus unity expressing the opposite linear relationship between the concentration of the contaminant in the soil (C) and the concentration degraded by the microbes (C) at different time intervals for the remediation period.


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