2019 CSCE Annual Conference - Laval (Greater Montreal) Conference
Dr. Linlong Yu, University of Calgary
Dr. Gopal Achari, University of Calgary
Sulfolane (C4H8SO2) is an organosulfur compound with high water solubility and low soil adsorption. In the early 1960s, it was first introduced to western Canada as a solvent to perform sour gas sweetening (SulfinolR process) and aromatics extraction from hydrocarbon mixtures in the oil and gas industry. However, lack of control on the disposal of sulfolane containing waste during the past half century has resulted in groundwater and soil contamination near natural gas refinery plants. Off-site contamination was also reported as a result of sulfolane’s high mobility in water. Due to the widespread sulfolane contamination in North America and its potential health hazard toward human, there is a need to develop a method that remediates sulfolane contaminated water and soil.
Among the various sulfolane remediation technologies, aerobic biodegradation provides the most efficient and economical solution in removing sulfolane from aqueous media. With past researches mainly focused on the application of in-situ microbes to treat sulfolane, it is possible the sulfolane aerobic biodegradation process can be expedited by using single species of microbe. This paper evaluates the sulfolane degrading performance of two microbial species namely pseudomonas and archaea. Their efficiency of treatment was also compared with aquifer sediments contain a mixture of sulfolane degrading microorganisms. In addition, both microbes were modified through introducing amendments and acclimatization to enhance their sulfolane degrading performance.
Experimental results have shown that sulfolane can be effectively removed from aqueous media using single species of microbe. Comparing the two single species of microbes with aquifer sediments, pseudomonas exhibited the fastest sulfolane degradation rate. Modification study shows microbes’ sulfolane degradation rate can be accelerated through the addition of amendment, and lag times before the onset of sulfolane biodegradation can be reduced after acclimatization.