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. 2012;58(2):153-61.
doi: 10.2323/jgam.58.153.

Rhamnolipid Produced by Pseudomonas Aeruginosa USM-AR2 Facilitates Crude Oil Distillation

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Rhamnolipid Produced by Pseudomonas Aeruginosa USM-AR2 Facilitates Crude Oil Distillation

Nur Asshifa Md Noh et al. J Gen Appl Microbiol. .
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Abstract

A biosurfactant-producing and hydrocarbon-utilizing bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa USM-AR2, was used to assist conventional distillation. Batch cultivation in a bioreactor gave a biomass of 9.4 g L(-1) and rhamnolipid concentration of 2.4 g L(-1) achieved after 72 h. Biosurfactant activity (rhamnolipid) was detected by the orcinol assay, emulsification index and drop collapse test. Pretreatment of crude oil TK-1 and AG-2 with a culture of P. aeruginosa USM-AR2 that contains rhamnolipid was proven to facilitate the distillation process by reducing the duration without reducing the quality of petroleum distillate. It showed a potential in reducing the duration of the distillation process, with at least 2- to 3-fold decreases in distillation time. This is supported by GC-MS analysis of the distillate where there was no difference between compounds detected in distillate obtained from treated or untreated crude oil. Calorimetric tests showed the calorie value of the distillate remained the same with or without treatment. These two factors confirmed that the quality of the distillate was not compromised and the incubation process by the microbial culture did not over-degrade the oil. The rhamnolipid produced by this culture was the main factor that enhanced the distillation performance, which is related to the emulsification of hydrocarbon chains in the crude oil. This biotreatment may play an important role to improve the existing conventional refinery and distillation process. Reducing the distillation times by pretreating the crude oil with a natural biosynthetic product translates to energy and cost savings in producing petroleum products.

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