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Integrated Energy Systems Culture Bank

Overview

InnoTech Alberta owns a vast collection of hydrocarbon degrading cultures which were established from mature fine tailings from various tailings ponds by Dr. Julia Foght’s petroleum microbiology group at the University of Alberta. These cultures are capable of growing and metabolizing a wide range of hydrocarbons.

Services

The Culture Bank’s primary focus is to support applied R&D in the areas of hydrocarbon remediation and biotechnology. InnoTech welcomes requests for cultures and the Culture Bank is available for purchase, industrial services and collaborative research projects. Following is a list of detailed service activities using the enriched cultures:

  • Fundamental Research:

    • Source of pure isolates to gain physiological and biochemical insights into microbial metabolic pathways.
    • Verify metagenomic and metatranscriptomic prediction of function.

  • Biotechnology:

    • Sources of genes and enzymes.
    • Combine with fosmid library functional screens.

  • Industrial Applications:

    • Inocula for souring control.
    • Cultures for microbial enhanced oil recovery (MEOR) or methanization.
    • Altering surface wettability to improve bitumen recovery from oil sands ores with poor processibility.
    • Alternative processing of oil sands ores.
    • Gel-breakers for waterflooding (porosity control).
    • Inocula for bioremediation of fracking fluids in the backwash ponds, or to enhance fracking efficiency.
    • Inocula to produce methane or other value-added products (e.g. alcohols, solvents, organic acids) from different hydrocarbons.
    • Biodensification of mature fine tailings.
    • Bioremediation of hydrocarbon spills.

 

The table below summarizes the extent of InnoTech’s culture collection:

Enrichment Culture Hydrocarbon - Substrate Source Age
Naphtha Enrichment Cultures Mixture of low molecular weight, low boiling point hydrocarbons Mature Fine Tailings from oil sands tailings ponds 2-7 years
BTEX Enrichment Cultures Benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, o-,m-, p-xylene Mature Fine Tailings from oil sands tailings ponds 2-7 years
Short-Chain Alkane-Degrading Cultures C6-C10 alkanes Mature Fine Tailings from oil sands tailings ponds 2-7 years
Long-Chain Enrichment Cultures C14, C16, C18 alkanes Mature Fine Tailings from oil sands tailings ponds 2-7 years
Isoparaffin Enrichment Cultures Isoparaffin Mature Fine Tailings from oil sands tailings ponds 2-7 years
Methanogenic Coal-degrading cultures Coal (different ranks) Deep subsurface coal seams (Alberta Basin) 4-6 years
Methanogenic Heavy Oil-degrading cultures Heavy oil Alberta Heavy Oil Reservoir 4 years

All enrichment culture sets have substantial data such as growth curves, metabolites and DNA sequencing associated with them. Details on the cultures’ original environments are also available.

Microbiology Culturing and Testing Facility

  • Anaerobic chamber and "gassing station"
  • Capability of preparing microbial cultures under anaerobic conditions (nitrate-, iron- and sulfate-reducing and methanogenic)
  • Numerous incubators (10° to 80°C)
  • Fluorescent light microscope
  • High-pressure vessels

 


For more information, contact:

Karen Budwill, PhD
Senior Researcher
Integrated Energy Systems
780.450.5128
karen.budwill@innotechalberta.ca