April 1999

Trends and Resources

HP Impact: HPImpact: Microbe that 'eats' MTBE undergoes testing in the field

An MTBE-eating microbe is being field-tested by researchers at the University of California at Davis. The natural organism was discovered at a wastewater treatment facility. According to the Oxygenate..

Weirauch, Wendy, Hydrocarbon Processing Staff

An MTBE-eating microbe is being field-tested by researchers at the University of California at Davis. The natural organism was discovered at a wastewater treatment facility. According to the Oxygenated Fuels Association (OFA), the microbe has shown "great promise" in the lab by devouring MTBE, a component added to gasoline to make it burn more cleanly. Leaking tanks are the largest source of groundwater contamination by gasoline and its constituents. Thus, "the new microbe is another defense against leaking underground tanks," says OFA. The MTBE-eating "bug" was cultured from a natural microbial consortium. In the lab, the microbe breaks down MTBE and converts it to carbon

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