Chemical and Environmental Engineering Group

Biorremediation of contaminated soils

Oil spillage and other organic pollutants on soils and water sources can be removed by means of various physical and chemical processes. Under certain circumstances, however, some of these techniques cannot be applied in faraway areas where the access of people, heavy machinery or material is difficult or impossible, or when the impact on the polluted media needs to be minimized. This is especially important for contaminated soils. Nowadays, biological processes for the depuration of pollutants by means of enzymes offer interesting possibilities for the recovery of contaminated soils. The complete biodegradation of complex organic compounds needs of different enzymes acting sequentially in the degradation pathway. Nevertheless, an important limitation of this sort of treatments is the enzyme denaturalization due to environmental factors (temperature, solar radiation, pH, etc.), which progressively reduces the enzymatic activity. The immobilization or encapsulation of the enzyme within an open porous structure is one of the possibilities to prevent or minimize such denaturalization. In this research line the interest is focused on the development of catalytic systems based on immobilized enzymes within mesostructured silica-based materials.

Current research projects: