"Environment" research area

Engineering of Silica Micro-bioreactors for Biodegradation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons

Alptekin Aksan and his team are studying Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are a common and problematic class of pollutants in the US and in Minnesota. Furthermore, the increased railroad traffic through the state carrying the Bakken crude increases the chances for spills. This research will focus on Pseudomonas sp. NCIB 9816-4, a model organism, which has been extensively studied and has been shown to metabolize more than 100 aromatic hydrocarbons. Our data have shown that if proliferation is inhibited, the encapsulated cell activity is limited to two weeks. We intend to increase that by encapsulating cells in a growth-inducing gel initially by encapsulating them in an alginate gel and then re-encapsulating them in a silica gel to protect them from the environmental challenges.