The new technique of using the bacteria to get rid of oil spill has been called “Oil Zapping”. Oil Zapping is a bio-remediation technique involving the use of ‘oil zapping’ bacteria. It was recently employed to clean up the Mumbai shoreline affected by the oil spill that occurred in August 2010.
The Mumbai Oil Spill happened when a merchant vessel M V Khalijia collided with a cargo ship MSC Chitra 10 km off the coast of Mumbai. MSC Chitra tilted 15 degrees soon after the collision but there was no loss of life. The cargo ship eventually tilted to about 80 degrees dropping around 250 containers into the sea. Before the spill could be plugged 400 tons of oil had leaked into the sea.
The Maharashtra Pollution Control Board used the services of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) which has developed the oil zapping bacteria. TERI had developed this technique over a period of seven years. The Oil Zapping project was supported by the Department of Biotechnology (Government of India) and the Ministry of Science and Technology.
How does Oil Zapper Work?
There are five different bacterial strains that are immobilized and mixed with a carrier material such as powdered corncob. This mixture of five bacteria is called Oil Zapper. Oilzapper feeds on hydrocarbon compounds present in crude oil and the hazardous hydrocarbon waste generated by oil refineries, known as Oil Sludge and converts them into harmless CO2 and water. The Oilzapper is neatly packed into sterile polythene bags and sealed aseptically for safe transport. The shelf life of the product is three months at ambient temperature.
The technique was used successfully and 130,000 tons of oily sludge/ oil contaminated soil was treated as per the leading news sources.