Extremophiles

As has been previously mentioned, in general the use of biotechnology for environmental management relies on mesophilic micro-organisms which have roughly similar environmental requirements to ourselves, in terms of temperature, pressure, water requirement and relative oxygenation. However, often some of their abilities, which are directly instrumental in enabling their use in this context, arose in the first instance as a result of previous environmental pressures in the species (pre)history....

Biodiesel

Returning to the central consideration of bioenergy, it would be wrong to discuss this topic without at least some passing reference to biodiesel, even though, since it revolves around a chemical refining process, it is not strictly produced by biotechnology. Like the increasing number of mineral oil substitutes currently available or under development, biodiesel is derived from vegetable oils. Modern diesel engines demand a clean-burning fuel of uniform quality which can function under all...

Ex situ techniques

Again, there are three principal approaches in common use, namely land farming, soil banking and soil slurry bioreactors. Though inevitably there are distinct similarities between all applications of bioremediation, for obvious reasons of fundamental biology, these techniques are generally more distinct and separate. The major benefits of ex situ methods are the greater ease of process optimisation and control, relatively shorter treatment time and the increased potential for the safe...

Examples of developments in plant GE

The purpose of these examples is to illustrate the potential plant genetic engineering could bring to future practical applications in the field of environmental biotechnology. In some cases the intention is to reduce the amount of herbicide and pesticides, or other agricultural chemicals required to produce a given crop yield, in others it is to improve tolerance of harsh conditions or to protect the plants from attack thus reducing wastage. The intention is to note the technical details here,...

Carbon sequestration

Their use as a carbon sink is a simpler process, only requiring the algae themselves. However, even as a functional algal monoculture, just as with the joint algal bacterial bioprocessing for effluents, without external intervention to limit the standing burden of biomass within the bioreactor, reduced efficiency and, ultimately, system collapse is inevitable. In nature, huge amounts of many elements are held in global reservoirs, regulated by biogeochemical cycles, driven by various...

Membrane Bioreactors

This system, instead of utilising conventional methods of gravity settlement, achieves the desired biomass retention by means of a cross-flow filtration process, as shown in Figure 6.8. The development of effective methods of micro- and ultra-filtration has opened up the potential for using membrane bioreactor technology on various forms of domestic and industrial effluents. There are three general types of reactor systems which have been developed, namely solid liquid separation, gas permeable...