Final Blog Post

Throughout this project I learned about a ton of different ways to clean up oil spills. A positive side effect of the BP oil spill was that the company and many universities are putting a lot of money into funding research to find new technology to prevent and clean oil spills. Many researchers are looking for ways to mitigate the harmful effects through new technology or natural methods such as mushrooms and bacteria. A few of them are even looking for ways to prevent oil spills such as the virtual wall. These new methods are really great but majority of the ones I found are still being developed and won’t reach the market for a while. Some of the methods such as the aerogel and the nanoparticles seem less plausible on a larger scale which sets the research back. The research project on using mushrooms is also facing problems but in regards to funding.

Though all of these methods are necessary due to the world’s dependence on oil, the best solution overall would to reduce our oil use and move towards greener energy. There are many European countries moving towards this oil free future. Sweden has been working on becoming completely oil free since the 1970s  and hopes to break their dependency in 2020. Denmark has started plans to be oil free by 2050. There are new green cities such as Masdar in Abu Dhabi which is planned around the idea that it will run entirely on renewable resources.

The reality is we will continue to have oil spills and these new technologies may really help mitigate their effects on the environment. Also some of these project will still have applications even if the entire world moved away from oil, the mushrooms and the bacteria would help clean up the soils and waterways that have been affected by oil spills in the past. Exxon-Valdez spill still can be found in the soil in the spill zone and these natural methods could be solution. In the end, the United States dependence on oil will continue and with the possible new implementation of the keystone pipeline, it seems this dependence will be lasting for a while.



New Bacteria could help solve our oil spill issues.

A student in Canada attending Marianopolis College found a strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens bacteria that can digest-oil. This strain is currently believed to be a brand new strain of bacteria. Nivatha Balendra, found this bacteria while working on a science project, she is currently a finalist in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. She wanted to focus on environmentally-friendly solutions to clean up oil spills. 

Bacteria is one natural way to clean up oil spills. Norwegian scientists conducted a multitude of tests to see how well bacteria works to clean up oil spills. They found that in their natural state after a month the bacteria did very little to clean up the oil. They concluded that the problem was that the bacteria was not in the concentrations necessary to clean up these oil spills. They increased the bacteria population by adding nutrients and adjusting different variables.

To make this bacteria work outside of a laboratory they have planned capsules that they can attach to rocks that would provide the bacteria with the necessary growing conditions.

The bacteria Nivatha Balendra might be a really good step towards cleaning up oil spills but the study done in Norway shows that it takes a little more than just letting the bacteria clean up after us we still need to help the bacteria out a bit.