Oil desorption from mineral and organic materials using biosurfactant complexes produced by Rhodococcus species

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Rhodococcus strains from the culture collection at the Institute of Ecology and Genetics of Microorganisms, Perm, Russia were examined for biosurfactant production during growth on n-alkanes and the ability to remove oil associated with contaminated sands and oil shale cuttings. Members of the genus, particularly R. ruber, were shown to produce low toxicity surfactants effective in removing oil from surfaces. The extent of desorption was inversely related to the concentration of high molecular weight hydrocarbons, namely asphaltenes and resins. In addition, crude surfactant complexes enhanced the degradation of crude oil, in the short term, when added to contaminated agricultural soil during bioremediation studies utilizing biopiling technology.

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