Biodesulfurization (BDS) is an alternative to hydrodesulfurization (HDS) as a method to remove sulfur from crude oil. Dibenzothiophene (DBT) was chosen as a model compound for the forms of thiophenic sulfur found in fossil fuels; up to 70% of the sulfur in petroleum is found as DBT and substituted DBTs; these compounds are however particularly recalcitrant to hydrodesulfurization, the current standard industrial method. My thesis deals with enhancing BDS through novel strains and through nanotechnology. Chapter highlights are: Chapter 2. My first aim was to isolate novel aerobic, mesophilic bacteria that can grow in mineral media at neutral pH value with DBT as the sole sulfur source. Different natural sites in Iran were sampled and I enriched, isolated and purified such bacteria. Twenty four isolates were obtained that could utilize sulfur compounds. Five of them were shown to convert DBT into HBP. After preliminary characterization, the five isolates were sent to the Durmishidze Institute of Biotechnology in Tbilisi for help with strain identification. Two isolates (F2 and F4) were identified as Pseudomonas strains, F1 was a Flavobacterium and F3 belonged to the strain of Rhodococcus. The definite identification of isolate F5 was not successful but with high probability it was a known strain. Since no new strains were apparently discovered, I did not work further in this direction. Chapter 3. In a second approach I studied the desulfurization ability of Shewanella putrefaciens strain NCIMB 8768, because in a previous investigation carried out at Cranfield University, it had been found that it reduced sulfur odour in clay. I compared its biodesulfurization activity profile with that of the widely studied Rhodococcus erythropolis strain IGTS8. However, S. putrefaciens was not as good as R. erythropolis. Chapter 4 and 5. I then turned to nanotechnology, which as a revolutionary new technological platform offers hope to solve many problems. There is currently a trend toward the increasing use of nanotechnology in industry because of its potentially revolutionary paths to innovation. I then asked how nanotechnology can contribute to enhancing the presently poor efficiency of biodesulfurization. Perhaps the most problematic difficulty is how to separate the microorganisms at the end of the desulfurization process. To make BDS more amenable, I explored the use of nanotechnology to magnetize biodesulfurizing bacteria. In other words, to render desulfurizing bacteria magnetic, I made them magnetic by decorating their outer surfaces with magnetic nanoparticles, allowing them to be separated using an external magnet. I used the best known desulfurizing bacterial strain, Rhodococcus erythropolis IGTS8. The decoration and magnetic separation worked very well. Unexpectedly, I found that the decorated cells had a 56% higher desulfurization activity compared to the nondecorated cells. I proposed that this is due to permeabilization of the bacterial membrane, facilitating the entry and exit of reactant and product respectively. Supporting evidence for enhanced permeabilization was obtained by Dr Pavel Grigoriev, Institute of Cell Biophysics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushchino. In Chapter 6, to optimize attachment of the nanoparticles to the surface of the bacteria I created thin magnetic nanofilms from the nanoparticles and measured the attachment of the bacteria using a uniquely powerful noninvasive optical technique (Optical Waveguide Lightmode Spectroscopy, OWLS) to quantify the attachment and determine how the liquid medium and other factors influence the process
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