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A Bit OT-Oil Eating Bacteria

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  • A Bit OT-Oil Eating Bacteria

    This one may not be too far off topic, as oil spills do occur sometimes when handling machinery. I had read a few years back that there are bacteria which eat and decompose petroleum compounds, anything from crude oil to stuff like diesel fuel working well. I have read more recently that this type of bacteria is sometimes intentionally introduced during site remediation after an oil spill.

    Even more recently(last couple of weeks), I spoke to someone who used to work at a military airbase. We just happen to cover the subject of this oil eating bacteria, and it was not news to him. Apparently, whenever they would have a spill of jet fuel, they had containers of this bacteria in powder form they would spread on the ground and plow it in, and consider the job done.

    Does anybody have any specifics about what exactly this bacteria is, or where it may be purchased? I know somebody who recently spilled a 5 gallon bucket of diesel fuel in their yard, would like to get a hold of some of this stuff if possible. Any suggestions?

    Thank you

  • #2
    That spilled Diesel fuel will decompose all by itself, and probably quicker than you'd think. It is organic, after all.


    • #3
      Wonder what those bacteria go to work on when you bring it home on your shoes. What would it do if it got into the ways of your machinery?


      • #4
        Originally posted by jdunmyer
        That spilled Diesel fuel will decompose all by itself, and probably quicker than you'd think. It is organic, after all.
        Use to work with a bunch of Italians and at crib time one fella was tellin' his mates that Diesel was a good weed killer , but , it had an extra kicker in it, it was also a good fertilizer. The veggies he bought along to give to the other fellas were all good stuff, so it must of worked.


        • #5
          This bacteria has used for years in the UK at diesel locomotive serving facilities and stabling points to clear the oil and diesel that accumulates on the tracks underneath locomotives. It has proved very successful. I have no idea what the bacteria is though!



          • #6
            As far as i know, the bacteria are naturally occuring,
            so a light oil like diesil will to some degree evaporate, then be broken down naturally by bacteria.
            (i am sure some one will comment on this!)you could encourage the process to speed up by putting fertiliser on the spill
            no you wont blow yourself up.


            • #7
              Where at? Here's one link...


              and another


              and another


              and another


              The field is termed ``Bioremediation`` The exact bugs description are often proprietary, but a google search or wikipedia search should get a few hits for the description as there has been a lot of interest in cleaning up after ourselves over the last 20 years.

              or government agencies..

              FWIW, at least one of the sites is a spill clean-up contractor and may be able to make some suggestions as to the best way to proceed and possibly clarify whether augmenting the natural decomposition with bugs is justified.

              Good Luck!
              Last edited by camdigger; 01-13-2009, 03:04 PM.
              Design to 0.0001", measure to 1/32", cut with an axe, grind to fit


              • #8
                Oil is a naturally occuring substance and not just underground. There are plenty of oil seeps both on land and in the ocean so it is only natural that some organisms will take advantage of a carbon rich energy source. After all, life on earth is carbon based.

                Oil Through the Ages

                347 A.D. Oil wells are drilled in China up to 800 feet deep using bits attached to bamboo poles.

                1264 Mining of seep oil in medieval Persia witnessed by Marco Polo on his travels through Baku.

                1500s Seep oil collected in the Carpathian Mountains of Poland is used to light street lamps.

                1594 Oil wells are hand dug at Baku, Persia up to 35 meters (115 feet) deep.

                1735 Oil sands are mined and the oil extracted at Pechelbronn field in Alsace, France.

                1815 Oil is produced in United States as an undesirable by-product from brine wells in Pennsylvania.

                1848 First modern oil well is drilled in Asia, on the Aspheron Peninsula north-east of Baku, by Russian engineer F.N. Semyenov.

                1849 Distillation of kerosene from oil by Canadian geologist Dr. Abraham Gesner. Kerosene eventually replaces whale oil as the illuminant of choice and creates a new market for crude oil.

                1850 Oil from hand-dug pits in California at Los Angeles is distilled to produce lamp oil by General Andreas Pico.

                1854 First oil wells in Europe are drilled 30- to 50-meters deep at BŁŽbrka, Poland by Ignacy Lukasiewicz.

                1854 Natural Gas from a water well in Stockton, California is used to light the Stockton courthouse.

                1857 Michael Dietz invents a kerosene lamp that forces whale oil lamps off the market.

                1858 First oil well in North America is drilled in Ontario, Canada.

                1859 First oil well in United States is drilled 69 feet deep at Titusville, Pennsylvania by Colonel Edwin Drake.

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                • #9
                  Tere is a parts cleaner company that makes a parts cleaner that has oil eating bacterioa involved in the process. They also make several fluids and other products that do the same thing. They claim the more oil you clean off, the better the cleaning action. I looked at one for my shop, it did a great job in the demo at eastech. The drawback for me was that during the off periods of the summer months, I would actually have to come in and pour in a quart or two of hydraulic oil to keep the cleaner "charged". Sounded like a great idea, especially since the disposal of finally "dead cleaner" could be done down the drain.


                  For more applications and products - the cleaners themself - look at

                  Last edited by spope14; 01-13-2009, 05:25 PM.
                  CCBW, MAH


                  • #10
                    Grease eating bugs

                    Back about 1990 this was avaliable locally from one of the water well supply houses. It was used for cleaning rigs and other equipment. The build up of dust from air drilling that solidifies with oil and grease slung by bad seals over greased U-joints, spills etc. was hard to clean off. This was not a quick fix and it had to be kept moist to keep the bacteria alive. It did eat the oil and leave the dirt to be more easily washed off. Turned out to be too slow to be effective. In a similar vein about the same time there was a lot of research money spent trying to develope bugs that could live in the oil well environment and that would eat the paraffin that accumulates and decreases production. Have not heard any thing about this lately.
                    Byron Boucher
                    Burnet, TX


                    • #11
                      There are bacteria that live in jet fuel. The don't actually eat the jet fuel and they depend on water contamination but they are a serious problem for remote areas that bring in fuel for helicopters in drums. It all has to be filtered during fueling and mats of bacteria clog the filters.

                      There are also bacteria that can live in molten sulphur and bacteria on the bottom of the sea that can withstand temperatures far above boiling in superheated water in volcanic vents. There is one bacteria called Radiodurans that can withstand gamma ray doses that are used to sterilize canned food. It can also withstand conditions the same as outer space in direct exposure to cosmic rays for years, perhaps much longer. There are bacteria under the Antarctic Ice Cap 2 miles down. There isn't a place on Earth except in molten magma that there is no life. Bacteria are everywhere.

                      Everywhere. Up to 1/3 of the bulk of your feces is made up of benign intestinal bacteria. Hey honey, what are we having for supper?
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