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Oil Eating Bacteria Clean Tech Challenge

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A brief presentation regarding the product "oil eating bacteria" owned by Ecologia Applicata, which detains this unique technology and related expertise

A brief presentation regarding the product "oil eating bacteria" owned by Ecologia Applicata, which detains this unique technology and related expertise

Published in: Technology, Business

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  • 1. OIL EATING BACTERIA
  • 2. OIL EATING BACTERIA & APPLICATIONSWe propose a bio-catalytic technology that can prevent environmental damage arising from anyoil spill in marine waters by releasing a natural and biocompatible product into the affectedarea. In fact, oil-eating bacteria represents the best possible solution available in emergencysituations, offering the least environmental impact and the lowest possible cost, in order toeffectively limit the serious damages cause by the ecological disaster.The bacteria are sprinkled on oil spots in the sea together with nutrients (nitrogen andphosphorous) that act to catalyse the metabolic process. After only a few hours, this technologyis able to break down hydrocarbon molecules into partially biodegradable non-toxic sub-products.It is worth noting that both nitrogen and phosphorous are nutrients that are very scarce in theopen sea and thus they must be added to the bacterial blend. In respect to this, a particulartechnology has been developed to capsulate micro nutrients such that they can be correctlyand effectively mixed with the bacteria. Capsulated micro nutrients take action quite gradually;the capsule’s wax layer melts in hydrocarbon and slowly releases nitrogen and phosphorous,allowing consistent, rapid micro-organism growth resulting in complete neutralization of thespill.
  • 3. What do you think is new or different about your idea?If this is such a good idea, why hasn’t it been done before?Explain how your idea is technically feasible.Why do you think this business is economically viable?Imagine you have money to invest, why would you not invest in your venture?
  • 4. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS NEW OR DIFFERENT ABOUT YOUR IDEA?• It is easy to implement using existing equipment on site at most platform, opening up several new technical applications on dedicated ships (i.e. skim-boats), oil-tankers and oil plants’ offshore safety systems. This allows for an immediate and effective response at the site to combat the pollution due to an oil spill.• This technology overcomes what has been defined “an environmental trade-off” by the EPA1 in the USA, which justified in this manner the use of dispersants during emergency situations. Applied on the surface before spills reach the coastline, dispersants can potentially decrease exposure to the spill for surface-dwelling organisms (such as sea birds) and intertidal species (such as mangroves and salt marshes), but often increase exposure to the aquatic life found deeper in the water. Additionally, recent scientific tests2 indicate that the toxic dispersants used to address recent crisis can create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil and have negative effect on the health of coastlines’ human population.• Oil companies face numerous risks involved in extraction, refining and transportation of crude oil. Up until now, only safety and environmental risks linked to their traditional core activities were addressed. But the development and growth of offshore drilling, which represents a relatively recent practice in the oil industry, has revealed a clear misunderstanding and undervaluation of the risks implied3. Due to the quick spread of this type of drilling during the last 20 years, its implied risks were not fully analysed and soundly incorporated in the designing of proper safety measures. This spread continues today, and the fact that BP recently drilled the deepest ever recorded well makes this underestimation of both the probability and impact of a disaster an immediately relevant issue.
  • 5. WHAT DO YOU THINK IS NEW OR DIFFERENT ABOUT YOUR IDEA?• Today there is a favourable consensus among the corporate world and the general public to develop and adopt technologies that reduce environmental damages arising from oil spills when safety measures in place fail to contain the emergency.• This favourable climate is further strengthened by political pressure on national environmental agencies to allow the testing of new technologies on a large scale. Heavy government criticism following the recent crisis because of poor results despite high investment of resources as well as government authorization of the use of toxic dispersants has caused the political landscape to turn favourably on developing technologies like the one we propose.• Research triggered by recent events has lead to an over-abundance of data regarding the severe short-term and long-term environmental damages due to oil spills. Our idea is important because of the absence of any other technology able to effectively neutralize oil spills without environmental damage.
  • 6. What do you think is new or different about your idea?If this is such a good idea, why hasn’t it been done before?How is your idea be technically feasible?Why do you think this business is economically viable?Imagine you have money to invest, why would you not invest in your venture?
  • 7. IF THIS IS SUCH A GOOD IDEA, WHY HASN’T IT BEEN DONE BEFORE?• In order to be effective, this technology needs both of its core parts, which have only recently been scientifically validated: specific oil eating bacteria and encapsulated nutrients that slowly melt in the hydrocarbon over the water surface. The oil eating bacteria were isolated from naturally occurring bacteria, and recent scientific trials4 show that this latter state-of-art core technology is perfectly suitable and easily available.• Because of the previously politically sensitive environmental concerns regarding the nature of bacteria and the possibility of altering the marine ecosystem of treated areas. This attitude is now changing because of the catastrophic nature of the recent spill.• Because of insufficient scientific data documenting the long-term effects related to the release of these natural bacteria in the marine ecosystem. However, the basic biology of the bacteria is such that without access to the main nutrients they need to survive (phosphorous and nitrogen, both scarce in the open sea) their life cycle will terminate, suggesting they should have little long term effect on the area in which they are introduced.• Traditional risk management practices adopted by major oil companies have always dealt with oil-spill prevention, not clean up, mostly focusing on the adoption of technical and mechanical devices (i.e. bulkheads, double well controls, etc) that reduce the probability of environmental disaster. This led to a situation were “good enough” technologies were justified by the relatively low probability of a major disasters, so there has been little incentive before now to develop a technology like this.
  • 8. What do you think is new or different about your idea?If this is such a good idea, why hasn’t it been done before?Explain how your idea is technically feasible.Why do you think this business is economically viable?Imagine you have money to invest, why would you not invest in your venture?
  • 9. EXPLAIN HOW YOUR IDEA IS TECHNICALLY FEASIBLE.This idea is technically feasible because it relies on an existing and scientifically testedtechnology. We believe that this idea is particularly powerful because it specifically does notrely on yet-to-be-invented breakthrough solutions. The oil eating bacteria technology needssome further testing to fully monitor its effectiveness on large scale and in different climaticconditions and also to better understand the reaction in an open sea environment, but thesetests are within the power of our scientific partners. Overall, tests carried out to date indicatesignificant positive results in figures related to oil eating bacteria’s performances.In order to mitigate the risks related to the timing and effectiveness of bacteria’s ability tobreakdown hydrocarbon molecules, a sensitivity analysis on the effects of temperature is beingcarried out, which we hope will further support our technology. This additional informationwill help in identifying optimal and suboptimal areas of intervention, leading to additionalrelated findings indicating the best and the worse conditions in which to use this technology.Most importantly, this idea relies on a patented bacteria that our business partners own thelegal rights to. The business model has been developed in conjunction with these scientists,who highly support it going forward. The business model is flexible depending upon theexpertise and funding provided, and could be adapted for simply licensing the product ordeveloping in-house dedicated technical applications.
  • 10. What do you think is new or different about your idea?If this is such a good idea, why hasn’t it been done before?Explain how your idea is technically feasible.Why do you think this business is economically viable?Imagine you have money to invest, why would you not invest in your venture?
  • 11. WHY DO YOU THINK THIS BUSINESS IS ECONOMICALLY VIABLE?• Encapsulated nutrients are relatively inexpensive compared to alternative solutions to manufacture on a large/medium scale.• The selected oil eating bacteria are also relatively inexpensive to cultivate in laboratory.• Both the bacteria and the technical process to microencapsulate nutrients are patented by our business partners and the efficiency of the combination has been proven in scientific trials5.• There are myriads of possible technical applications flowing from the use of this core technology (i.e. skim-boats, helicopters and planes equipped with sprinklers); it would be relatively easy to license it to the relevant manufactures.• Otherwise, it would be possible to develop joint ventures and partnerships with boatyard designers and engineers in order to build a dedicated boatyard that leverage on the developments linked to the oil eating bacteria technology.• Direct and indirect, short and long-term costs caused by an oil spill are often substantial for the company responsible and, additionally, the emergency situation requires the expensive mobilization of several actors. Thus, both governments and corporate players are naturally interested in possessing and adopting a technology that mitigates and reduces these costs.
  • 12. What do you think is new or different about your idea?If this is such a good idea, why hasn’t it been done before?Explain how your idea is technically feasible.Why do you think this business is economically viable?Imagine you have money to invest, why would you not invest in your venture?
  • 13. IMAGINE YOU HAVE MONEY TO INVEST, WHY WOULD YOU NOT INVEST IN YOUR VENTURE?• Because of some uncertainty related to environmental concerns regarding long-term effects on marine life in the areas affected.• Because the use of this technology in open sea oil spills needs to be approved by environmental agencies/government bodies, which retain full sovereignty and discretionary power over national waters and coastlines. Governmental bodies may approve new legislation that favours exclusive usage of other technologies (i.e. solvents) However, solvents do little to decrease environmental impact on the sea ecosystem, and their use has been deemed by many as irresponsible6.• Because there is the potential for other technologies to be developed that compete on convenience or price advantage. However, a current market analysis carried out in order to identify substitutes fails to identify any other currently available competing product. The only exception is constituted by dispersants, which have been proven7 ineffective and widely harmful. Furthermore, it is worth noticing that the probability that the chemical industry will be able to produce shortly “green” dispersants is quite low.