Application of Microorganisms to the Processing and Upgrading of Crude Oil and Fractions

  • M. Ayala
  • R. Vazquez-Duhalt
  • M. Morales
  • S. Le Borgne
Reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)


Biotechnology has been successfully applied at the industrial level in the medical, fine chemical, agricultural, and food sectors. Several applications of biotechnology in the oil and energy industry in the future can also be foreseen. The production of biofuels in large volumes is now a reality, although there are some concerns about the use of land, water, and crops to produce fuels. In the oil industry, biotechnology has found its place in bioremediation and microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR). There are other opportunities in the processing (biorefining) and upgrading (bio-upgrading) of problematic oil fractions and heavy crude oils. In the context of increasing energy demand, conventional oil depletion, climate change, and increased environmental regulations on atmospheric emissions, biotechnologies such as biodesulfurization, biodenitrogenation, and aromatic ring opening (biodearomatization) and upgrading of heavy oils (degradation of asphaltenes and removal of metals) recover interest. In this chapter we revise the status of current regulations regarding fuel properties that have repercussions on its environmental impact, such as sulfur and nitrogen content, cetane number, and aromatic content, mainly in the EU and USA. We describe the cumulative and highlight the recent scientific and technological advances of these biotechnologies; their advantages and limitations are also discussed. On this basis, the possibility of integration in oil production plants and future oil refineries and biorefineries for the production of oil, fuels, and chemicals is analyzed.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Ayala
    • 1
  • R. Vazquez-Duhalt
    • 2
  • M. Morales
    • 3
  • S. Le Borgne
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Cellular Engineering and BiocatalysisInstituto de Biotecnologia, UNAMCuernavacaMexico
  2. 2.Department of BionanotechnologyCentro de Nanociencias y Nanotecnologia, UNAMEnsenadaMexico
  3. 3.Department of Process and TechnologyUAM-CuajimalpaMexico CityMexico

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