World journal of microbiology & biotechnology

Enhancement of bunker oil biodesulfurization by adding surfactant.

PMID 22940903


Biodesulfurization (BDS) is a promising method to remove sulfur compounds from diesel and gasoline. However, the information on BDS of heavy oil is scanty, which might be due to their "undesirable" physical properties and more complicated sulfur diversities. In this study, the BDS of one kind of heavy oil, bunker oil MFO380 was investigated. The biocatalyst was obtained by the enrichment with oil sludge as the seed and using dibenzothiophene (DBT) as the sole sulfur source. The enriched biocatalyst (microbial mixed culture) could selectively remove sulfur from DBT and DBT was transformed into 2-hydroxybiphenyl, which indicates that the BDS process is beneficial to non-destructive carbon bonds and thus can maintain the calorific value. The bunker oil BDS results showed that after 7 days of incubation, the removal efficiency of sulfur in MFO380 was only 2.88 %, but this could be significantly improved by adding surfactants Triton X-100 or Tween 20. This effect could be attributed to greatly reduced viscosity of heavy oil and increased mass transfer of sulfur compounds in heavy oil into water. Adding Triton X-100 achieved the highest removal efficiency of sulfur, up to 51.7 % after 7 days of incubation. The optimal amount of Triton X-100 was 0.5 g/50 ml medium. When toluene was added as an organic solvent for MFO380, the BDS activity was improved, while lower than the effect of adding surfactants.