Bioaugmentation is used in several clean-up operations such as waste water management, cleaning and odour control, as well as surface cleanup and remediation. The first use of bioaugmentation, i. e. waste water management relies on certain microbes to degrade organic material, under controlled conditions. This is an example of a catabolic reaction, in order to treat waste water. The second example is cleaning and odour control of tiles, wood or concrete. The microorganisms penetrate the cracks in the above mentioned materials, using the grease/spills as a food source and removing them.
Third, bioaugmentation is used in surface cleanup and remediations which involves cleaning materials such as asphalt, concrete, metal and other equipment that comes in contact with oil, gasoline and grease. This is useful in factories and industries to maintain a clean and safe work environment. Bioaugmentation is a more useful and efficient way to deal with disposable material, rather than incineration because it offers the option of using natural biological activity. This means it costs less, it does not involve complex technology, and it does not affect the surrounding environment therefore it is publicly accepted.
Incineration involves higher costs for excavation, handling and transport. It requires more complex technology and also exposes workers and surrounding people to contamination from the waste being burned. Despite its many positive impacts on the environment, bioaugmentation does have certain drawbacks and limitations. Some factors to consider are the presence of metals or other inorganic material that may stop the bacteria from operating, extended treatment time and environmental constraints. Bioaugmentation depends on manipulating the environment (i. e. type of soil, pH, oxygen levels etc. for the bacteria growth and development so that degradation can occur at a faster rate. Other drawbacks are that some contaminators are resistant to bioaugmentation, which means a slow rate of degradation which is not very efficient. The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 was not controlled by bioaugmentation because the bacteria cannot be controlled and the process takes much longer. As well, the oil spill is at deep distances under the ocean, where temperatures are lower. According to scientists, lower temperatures slow down the metabolism of organisms therefore the bacteria will clean up the oil spill at a slower rate.
Another negative part of bioaugmentation is that the bacteria emit the greenhouse gas CO2 which means less oxygen in the ocean. The advantages of using chemical dispersants over bioaugmentation to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is that they provide a quicker solution and they break down the oil spill into smaller parts, so that bacteria can act on it and digest it more efficiently. However the dispersants do have disadvantages for example pollution of environment both air and water, killing other organisms in the ocean and even killing the useful bacteria used in bioaugmentation.
Chemical dispersants are not useful because they do not completely remove the oil spill, they break it down and control it spreading further. Overall, bioaugmentation is a useful resource for cleaning up the environment, providing an efficient and harmless alternative to using chemicals or high cost technology. Resources: http://www. iupac. org/publications/pac/pdf/2001/pdf/7307×1163. pdf http://www. waterguru. net. au/bio-augmentation http://www. scientificamerican. com/article. cfm? id=how-microbes-clean-up-oil-spills http://digitaljournal. com/article/291929