Unusual bacteria to be used for extracting fuel

Posted Dec 31, 2013 by Tim Sandle
Highly resistant bacteria called Halomonas are to be used for hydrocarbon extraction. The selection of these organisms is based on their unusual properties.
Glass representation of the parasite that causes malaria
Glass representation of the parasite that causes malaria
Luke Jerram
Halomonas, even in the microbial context, are hardy. The bacteria can withstand heat, high salinity, low oxygen, utter darkness and pressures that would kill most other organisms. This property makes the bacteria useful for hydrocarbon extraction and carbon sequestration.
The recommendation that these sandstone dwelling bacteria are used comes from a recommendation published in the journal Environmental Microbiology.
The bacteria discussed in the paper were sourced from samples found in a sandstone reservoir over one mile beneath the surface. The reservoir was located in the Illinois Basin. The species of the bacteria are uncertain but they are related to a species called Halomonas sulfidaeris.
The Illinois Basin is a Paleozoic depositional and structural basin in the United States, centered in and underlying most of the state of Illinois, and extending into southwestern Indiana and western Kentucky. The area is a major source of fuel; the Illinois Basin has produced more than four billion barrels of petroleum.
The particular properties of the bacteria are that they can utilize iron and nitrogen from their surroundings and recycle scarce nutrients to meet their metabolic needs. It is this effect that scientists think can be harnessed to help with petroleum fuel production.
The research paper is titled “Halomonas sulfidaeris-dominated microbial community inhabits a 1.8 km-deep subsurface Cambrian Sandstone reservoir.”