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06. Safe fragrances
05. DNA mass information store
04. Garden mounds for permaculture
03. Silver as high-tech material
02. Micro needle transmits medications and light
01. Electricity storage in gravity systems

12. An eye on space hazards
11. Water purification through freezing
10. Solar shingles
09. Trinary code
08. Vegetation-based battery materials
07. Indoor position location
06. The interface industry
05. Hypersonic aircraft
04. Re-usable glass packaging
03. Vein patterns as personal ID
02. Magnet making bacteria
01. Ultra-light solids

12. Ultrasound in water
11. Projected touchscreen
10. Electric airplane
08. Glass hard disc
04. Nuclear hazard
03. Clearing “sewer soap”
02. Water harvesting
01. Tea bag size personal water filter

12. Human powered water transport
11. The Technium
08. Bio-remediation of oil spills
07. Cleaner coal
05. Oil spill remediation
04. Solar towers
03. Brain-computer
02. Biodiesel producing bacteria
01. Hydrogen producing bacteria

12. Levitating living organisms
11. A new blue
10. Polymer magnets
09. Electric vehicle batteries
08. Implantable cancer monitors
07. Algal biofuel
06. Geo-Thermal Heat Pump
05. Battery powered roadster
04. Fenestration
03. Text to voice
02. Implantable ID chips
01. Air cleansing building material

12. ebooks
11. Energy Harvesting
10. Private space-flights
09. Virus identification chip
08. Bio-fuels
07. Electronic financial trading
06. Bio-remediation
05. New tech agriculture
04. Manufactured Hotels
03. Magnetic Induction
02. Genetic Vaults
01. Solid-state lighting

12 Bacteria in agriculture and industry
11. Blue revolution
10. Electronic nose
09. Nuclear sarcophagus
08. Shape shifting technology
07. Thought activated technology
06. Green is cool - make me look green
05. Electronic 'drugs'
04. Super-canals and super-ships
03. Environmentally friendly technology: greens versus grays
02. Agriculture: food,fiber and fuel
01. FPGA floating-point performance surpasses microprocessor

08. Energy sources for electricity compete
07. Universal interface (UI)
06. Magnetic levitation
05. Light pipes
04. Storage of electricity
03. Automotive engines
02. Molecular assembly
01. Introducing Technoscan Newsbriefs

Vol. 5, No. 8. August 31, 2010
ISSN 1932-3018

Bio-remediation of oil spills
Positioning this technology in the
Functionality Grid
Reformatted from: Van Wyk, Rias J: Technology - A Unifying Code, 2004, SMG, Cape Town, p.34. Based on: Ropohl, Gunter: Eine Systemtheorie der Technik, 1979, Carl Hanser Verlag, Munich and Vienna, p.178.
This Newsbrief deals with a new procedure for cleaning up oil pollution from the ocean — a biological solution that uses microbes to digest dispersed oil. In terms of the Atlas of Technological Megatrends it is concerned with the functionality of matter processing.
Technoscan® Newsbrief, Vol. 5, No. 5, of May 31, 2010, dealt with oil-spill remediation and the accident in the Gulf of Mexico. It pointed out the three principle approaches involved:
  • Biological - in which the oil is digested by organisms
  • Chemical - in which oil is burnt or diluted with dispersants
  • Mechanical - in which oil is physically gathered and recovered
Efforts involving microbes, i.e., the first approach, have been pursued for many years. In the fifties and sixties the emphasis was on microbe selection and breeding involving reactors called chemostats. With the advent of genetic manipulation in the seventies and eighties the emphasis changed to genetic improvement of microbes. This proved to be a big challenge. Many genetically enhanced microbes tended to be fragile and had difficulty in surviving in challenging oceanic conditions.
Recent years have seen the re-emergence of selection and breeding using more sophisticated approaches called bio-augmentation. This was reinforced by news reports describing the apparent rapid clean-up in the Gulf, ascribing it to naturally occurring microbes. A number of competing approaches were brought to public attention. Different microbes have been identified, e.g., Alcanivorax borkumensis, as well as different procedures from companies in the USA and abroad.
However most of these have not advanced beyond Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 6, on NASA’s nine point scale. Further development is expected.

© Rias J. van Wyk, 2013. Editor.