For example, particular bacteria can degrade sulphur liquor, a
waste product of paper manufacturing, and produce methane
as a by-product, which can then be used as fuel. After the
waste is consumed, the bacteria die off and return to their
normal population levels in the environment.
The bacteria used in bioremediation can be added to the site/
waste in two ways: specific nutrients can be introduced to
the site to stimulate growth of the bacteria population already
present, or new bacteria can be introduced to the site.
The management of issues surrounding the introduction of live
microbes to an ecosystem, particularly if the microbes have been
genetically modified, and their dependency on ideal conditions
have led to the development of enzymatic bioremediation. In
this, the gene responsible for a microbe's ability to degrade
waste/pollutants is isolated, cloned, mass-produced and
applied to the site.
The efficiency of enzymatic bioremediation can be improved
through the application of methods based on molecular biology,
which have the advantage of providing more rapid bioremediation
compared to the original microbe-reliant process. Enzymatic
bioremediation does, however, require stable enzymes that are
resistant to environmental stresses.
Bacterial and enzymatic bioremediation in areas like agriculture
and mining are used to manage irrigation run-off, spills,
commodity clean-up, wash-down of farm and mining machinery,
waste removal/conversion and to remove various environmental
pollutants from soil and water.
Microbes and enzymes are being used in waste management
for a variety of reasons, such as to allow industrial and food
waste components to be removed through the sewage system
rather than through solid waste disposal mechanisms. This
enables the conversion of waste material to biofuels and also
to convert plant and vegetable materials into building blocks for
Constructed wetlands and algal bioremediation are two
emerging technologies that may become important for treating
dilute sources of waste and contamination primarily at the
interface between the treated or diluted waste stream and the
environment. These two technologies could foreseeably be used
in a complementary fashion with microbial and/or enzymatic
depending on the target contaminant. Algal bioremediation is
particularly attractive due to its high overall biomass productivity
and the resulting products that can be produced.
Bioremediation - Case Study
James Cook University (JCU) and MBD Energy formed a
collaborative partnership through the Advanced Manufacturing
CRC to conduct research into the bioremediation qualities of
macroalgae in aquaculture, municipal and other industrial
waste streams, and subsequent conversion of algal biomass
into useful, value-adding co-products. Nutrients (dissolved
nitrogen and phosphorus) and intractable metals at the point
of discharge from treatment facilities are subsequently fed into
algae sources prior to discharge into the environment. This
bioremediation process yields a productive algal biomass that
is harvested for conversion into a number of various products
including biofuels, animal feeds, and higher value products.
This research is providing exciting possibilities to tackle a
number of environmental issues including dilute environmental
pollution and renewable fuel supply.
Renewable and Sustainable Energy in Queensland
Our global environmental footprint is of topical concern, with
many nations turning to more sustainable and environmentally-friendly
alternatives for a variety of industrial processes.
Particular focus has been given to reducing carbon emissions
and the sustainable supply of biofuels. Queensland has a unique
advantage in this sector with a significant agricultural industry
providing a reliable supply of natural biomass (specifically from
sugarcane). The enzymatic conversion of biomass (agricultural
waste) to biofuel is an extremely beneficial environmental
biotechnology process that not only produces renewable
energy, but also reduces agricultural waste.
As an example, QUT is leading Australia’s research in the
development of biorefining and bioenergy industries including the
transformation of wastes to valuable bioproducts and supporting
the development of the Biofutures sector in Queensland. It
owns and operates the Mackay Renewable Biocommodities
Pilot Plant which is demonstrating the production of valuable
bioproducts at scale such as the production of biomethane from
sugarcane trash with funding from the Australian Renewable
Energy Agency (ARENA).
Section 3: Life Sciences Queensland Ltd Sub Sectors
Life Sciences Queensland Limited – www.lsq.com.au