This work was aimed at evaluating the relative merits of bioaugmentation, biostimulation and surfactant-enhanced bioavailability of a desert soil contaminated by crude oil through biopile treatment. The results show that the desert soil required bioaugmentation and biostimulation for bioremediation of crude oil. The bioaugmented biopile system led to a total petroleum hydrocarbon (TPH) reduction of 77% over 156 days while the system with polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monooleate (Tween 80) gave a 56% decrease in TPH. The biostimulated system with indigenous micro-organisms gave 23% reduction in TPH. The control system gave 4% TPH reduction. The addition of Tween 80 led to a respiration rate that peaked in 48 days compared to 88 days for the bioaugmented system and respiration declined rapidly due to nitrogen depletion. The residual hydrocarbon in the biopile systems studied contained polyaromatics (PAH) in quantities that may be considered as hazardous. Nitrogen was found to be a limiting nutrient in desert soil bioremediation.
Keywords: bioaccessibility; bioaugmentation; bioavailability; biostimulation; desert soil bioremediation.