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Compositional changes of crude oil SARA fractions due to biodegradation and adsorption on colloidal support such as clays using Iatroscan


The compositional changes of saturates, aromatics, resins and asphaltenes (SARA) fractions in aqueous clay/oil microcosm experiments with a hydrocarbon-degrading microorganism community were analysed using Iatroscan. The clay mineral samples used in this study were organomontmorillonite, acid-activated montmorillonite and K, Ca, Zn and Cr montmorillonites produced by modifying the original montmorillonite sample. The evaluation and quantification of biodegradation and adsorption were carried out using a combination of the Iatroscan and gravimetric analysis. The SARA compositions in the presence of organomontmorillonite and acid-activated montmorillonite after incubation follow the same pattern in which the aromatic fraction is higher than the other fractions unlike in the presence of unmodified, K, Ca and Zn montmorillonites, where the saturates fraction is higher than the other fractions. Changes in SARA fractions due to biodegradation seemed to occur most in the presence of unmodified and calcium montmorillonites; hence, the removal of SARA fractions due to biodegradation was significant and enhanced in the presence of these two clay samples. However, biodegradation in the presence of organomontmorillonite and acid-activated and Cr montmorillonites was hindered. The study indicated that Cr montmorillonite adsorbed resins most, whereas Zn and K montmorillonites adsorbed aromatics most after incubation.

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We thank Berny Bowler, Paul Donohue, Phil Green and Ian Harrison for the laboratory support received from them. Generally, we are grateful to Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF) of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for funding this project and the School of Civil Engineering and Geosciences for providing the facilities used in this study.

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Correspondence to Uzochukwu C. Ugochukwu.

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Responsible Editor: Philippe Garrigues

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Ugochukwu, U.C., Jones, M.D., Head, I.M. et al. Compositional changes of crude oil SARA fractions due to biodegradation and adsorption on colloidal support such as clays using Iatroscan. Environ Sci Pollut Res 20, 6445–6454 (2013).

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  • Iatroscan
  • Biodegradation
  • Adsorption
  • Saturates
  • Aromatics
  • Resins
  • Asphaltenes