The Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System

renewable energy, carbon dioxide sink, biodiesel, and food from the ocean

Good Bugs Coming to the Clean Up

Posted by on Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

Researchers at the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and Caltec have successfully captured syntrophic microorganisms. These creatures consume methane and normally live in the anaerobic conditions in marine sediments existing in complex microbial ecosystems. It has been very difficult to separate the individual Archaea that were responsible for the anaerobic oxidation of methane because they do this in symbiosis with sulphate-reducing bacteria. Some estimate that 80% of the methane in the ocean is consumed by these microorganisms. Now that these organisms and their genes can be studied in isolation this may lead to new ways to combat methane pollution, something that all forms of agriculture and aquaculture lead to. The work has been published in the current issue of the renowned Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the method of extraction was patented (Pernthaler A, Orphan VJ (2007) US Patent 11/746,374).

Also, studies of Coal Oil Point conducted by Susan Mau at the University of California at Santa Barbara indicate that only one percent of the methane released into the ocean makes it into the atmosphere. Coal Oil Point, a huge and well studied natural methane seep on the bottom of the sea off the coast of Santa Barbara, releases about two million cubic feet of methane a day. By using data from 79 surface stations, they studied the plume of released gas in an area that covered 280 square kilometers. Full results will be published as the cover story in Volume 34 of Geophysical Research Letters.

David Valentine, associate professor of Earth Science at UC Santa Barbara, hypothesized that the methane is oxidized by microbial activity in the ocean. Although there was no attempt to capture or culture said microbes, there is little other explanation for the destruction of the methane. 

Microbial agents will be vital for minimizing the generation of methane due to the increased biological activity as DOW is brought to the surface by the Tidal Irrigation and Electrical System. The research above shows just how effective these microbes can be.

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