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Emulating deep-sea hydrocarbon releases in a high pressure bioreactor: challenges and innovations

Antoniou Eleftheria, Nikolopoulou Maria, Daskalakis Marios, Pasadakis Nikos, Kalogerakis Nikos

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Year 2017
Type of Item Conference Full Paper
Bibliographic Citation E. Antoniou, M. Nikolopoulou, M. Daskalakis, N. Pasadakis and N. Kalogerakis, "Emulating deep-sea hydrocarbon releases in a high pressure bioreactor: challenges and innovations," presented at 40th Arctic and Marine Oilspill Program - Technical Seminar on Environmental Contamination and Response, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 2017.
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The environmental and economic ramifications of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) incident have motivated research on hydrocarbon releases in deep-sea environments. In order to develop new mitigation technologies and to answer questions on dispersant efficiency/toxicity in the deep-sea environment a moderately priced, easy to operate, high-pressure reactor is required that emulates deep-sea environmental conditions (i.e., pressures 100 to 200 bar and temperatures 4 to 20 oC). Such high-pressure equipment can be effectively used to test the efficiency of remediation approaches to combat deep-sea oil releases at lab scale. The aim of this contribution is to identify the structural characteristics of such high-pressure vessel, the required ancillaries and the operating conditions to enable the emulation of the fate of oil in the deep-sea environment. The main objective of this contribution is to provide the basic design and modes of operation of a bioreactor operating under high pressure (typically 100 to 200 bar) emulating hydrocarbon releases at depths up to 2000 m. The primary objectives of this work were two: (1) To emulate the high pressure conditions, in the a high pressure bioreactor, enable the cultivation of microbes under conditions that reproduce the conditions during the movement of the side plume of hydrocarbon droplets at a constant depth (observed in the DWH incident), as well as the behavior of ascending oil droplets in the presence of microbes and dispersants with the potential formation of gas hydrates. (2) To develop a test for dispersants applied to deep-sea releases. A standard test for dispersant evaluation has been developed and it was related quantitatively to the classical dispersant test at atmospheric pressure.