Use of Biosurfactants in Oil Recovery

Reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)

Abstract

Biosurfactant-mediated oil recovery has the potential to recover large amounts of crude oil that remain entrapped in oil reservoirs after current oil recovery technologies reach their economic limit. Lipopeptides (surfactins and lichenysins), rhamnolipids, and other glycolipids generate the low interfacial tensions and the appropriate rock wettabilities needed to mobilize entrapped oil. Biosurfactants are active over a wide range of temperatures, pH values, and salinities found in many oil reservoirs and are effective at low concentrations. A number of laboratory experiments show that biosurfactant-mediated oil recovery is effective in recovering large amounts of entrapped oil. Several field trials show that in situ biosurfactant production is possible and recovers additional oil. Biosurfactant-mediated oil recovery has been difficult to scale-up to a reservoir-wide technology due to the lack of understanding of how best to stimulate biosurfactant production in the reservoir. In addition, the relationship between biosurfactant concentration and oil recovery is still unclear. Ex-situ biosurfactant-mediated oil recovery where the biosurfactant is added to the injection fluids has not been implemented on a large scale, most likely due to the high production costs of biosurfactants. Multidisciplinary approaches are needed to move biosurfactant-mediated oil recovery from the laboratory to the reservoir.

Notes

Acknowledgments

MJM was supported by contract DE-FG02-96ER20214 from Physical Biosciences Division, Office of Science, U. S. Department of Energy. GL was supported by a scholarship from China Scholarship Council.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MicrobiologyNankai UniversityTianjinChina
  2. 2.Department of Microbiology and Plant BiologyUniversity of OklahomaNormanUSA

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