Division head: Hans Kristian Kotlar, Statoil
Odd Stokke Gabrielsen, University of Oslo
Biotechnology is now well established within the VISTA program. VISTA Biotech will support the use of biotechnology throughout the value chain of Statoil. The ambitions are to provide new solutions and new technologies in bio-based sustainable and renewable energy, biofuels, and bioconversion in increased oil recovery, exploration tools and extraction of heavy oil, using biotechnological methods. Biotechnology will give new knowledge and gain competitive advantages for Statoil in existing areas, but also in entering into new business areas.
The main activities in 2011 have been focused around the following projects:
1:"Metagenomics and metaproteomics of deep arctic hydrothermal systems" involves research on revealing the biotechnological potential of microbial communities in cold methane seeps and deep arctic hydrothermal systems by using metagenomic and metaproteomics tools. This new knowledge has been used in culturing and we have succeeded in obtaining novel enrichment cultures of hydrocarbon degraders. A comprehensive reference genomic database has been generated being a good starting point for the production of new and novel biocatalysts.
2:"Developing proteomics and metaproteomics as tools for increased oil recovery". The purpose of this study is to perform a proteomic investigation of heavy oil-degrading microorganisms in an effort to increase our understanding of microbial degradation pathways for heavy crude oil.
Differences in protein accumulation profiles from the water and oil phase after incubation experiments have been analysed using DIGE followed by MALDI tof/tof identification of proteins.
A biosurfactant like substance (BLS), produced by two of the bacterial consortia emulsifies oil in water at very low concentrations. Two attempts have been made to identify the BLS by FTICR, but only preliminary results are available at this point.
3: "High throughput sequencing of deep sea metagenomes". The objective is to establish high throughput sequencing as a tool for metagenome investigation. Metagenomes of Håkon Mosby Mud Volcano, Oslo fjord sediment samples, Troll oil field sediment and Coal Oil Point seep showed increased potential for hydrocarbon degradation and will give new insight to the involved metabolic processes.
4:" Subsurface metagenomics, functional microbial diversity analysis and gene discovery in deep and hot petroleum reservoirs". Selected isolates from oil field, hot, production water are being genome sequence analysed. Sequence data will be used for elucidation of possible adaptations to extreme environments.
5: "Characterization and directed evolution of carbohydrate-binding modules (CBMs) for biomass conversion." The project focuses on so-called CBM33 proteins, which were recently shown to be oxidative enzymes that boost the enzymatic depolymerisation of chitin, a crystalline polysaccharide found in insects and crustaceans. 2011 has been a breakthrough year, since the Vista scholar showed that, certain CBM33 family members boost the enzymatic conversion of cellulose. More in-depth characterization, including studies of the redox mechanism, catalytic efficiencies on various substrates and metal dependencies, as well as structural studies has been performed.
6:" Synthesis and characterization of novel nanoparticles for enhanced oil recovery; development of superabsorbent gels for adsorbing oil spills." A series of new oil absorbing hydrophobic hybrid crosslinked polymer with/without magnetics nanoparticles (Fe3O4) were designed and synthesized. The introduction of the magnetic nanoparticles into the composite system provided an alternative method for the fast and selective removal of any hydrophobic oil/organic spill from water surface under external magnetic. Some new microgels with environmentally friendly monomers with biodegradable cross-linker have been synthesized. These new "green" materials (microgels) will then be well characterized with the aim to find out which of them that are best suited for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) applications.
This year, the various groups have been working intensely and the VISTA Biotech is starting to produce important new knowledge.
In the coming year we would like to see much more of application on all these sophisticated technologies, for possible use in:
- Biomass to biofuels
- New exploration tools in sensitive areas
- Increased oil recovery by bio-inoculation
- Enhanced extraction of heavy oil by bioconversion
The use of marine biomass as a raw material source for various types of 2G biofuels, will be of interest. In the future, increased oil recovery will become a major concern. Biotechnology can offer new, promising solutions to this problem by application of low energy, low emission, and environmentally friendly bio-tech methods. Particularly, new enzyme biocatalyst should be focused and specialized for new EOR applications.
The VISTA Biotech projects have produced 3 accepted papers, 2 papers submitted, 3 papers in preparation and the presentation of 6 conference talks in 2011.
For an overview of completed projects, please contact VISTA.