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Treatment of Oily Bilge Water from Small Fishing Vessels by PUF-Immobilized Gordonia sp. JC11

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Petroleum hydrocarbons in the bilge water of small fishing vessels are continuously released into the environment. The bilge water samples usually contained low amounts of oil-degrading bacteria; therefore, this study examines application of polyurethane foam (PUF)-immobilized Gordonia sp. JC11, a known lubricant-degrading bacterial inoculum, for the treatment of bilge water. Batch microcosm experiments showed that the PUF-immobilized bacteria were more efficient at removing oil than indigenous microorganisms and were able to remove approximately 40–50 % of the boat lubricant (1,000 mg L−1). The immobilized PUF samples rapidly adsorbed oil from the bilge water inside a small fishing vessel; however, the uninoculated PUF contained more oil than the inoculated PUF at most time points. The hydrocarbon components were also different when comparing inoculated and uninoculated PUF. These results indicate that the oil accumulated inside the PUF containing immobilized bacteria was being degraded by the Gordonia sp. JC11. However, these bacteria gradually die off after repeated oil exposure, and it is suggested that PUF-immobilized cells be replaced at timed intervals. This technique is considered simple and cheap; thus, it could be used to reduce chronic oil pollution from the release of bilge water.

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This study was financed by the Commission on Higher Education of Thailand and the 90th Anniversary of Chulalongkorn University Fund (Ratchadaphiseksomphot Endowment Fund), Chulalongkorn University. Some instruments were provided by the Thai Government Stimulus Package 2 (TKK2555) under the Project for Establishment of the Comprehensive Center for Innovative Food, Health Products and Agriculture.

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Correspondence to Ekawan Luepromchai.

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Chanthamalee, J., Wongchitphimon, T. & Luepromchai, E. Treatment of Oily Bilge Water from Small Fishing Vessels by PUF-Immobilized Gordonia sp. JC11. Water Air Soil Pollut 224, 1601 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-013-1601-6

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  • Petroleum pollution
  • Biodegradation
  • Bilge water
  • Bacterial inoculum
  • Fishing vessels