Evaluation of biosurfactants for crude oil contaminated soil washing

Kingsley Urum, Turgay Pekdemir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

325 Citations (Scopus)


An evaluation of the ability of aqueous biosurfactant solutions (aescin, lecithin, rhamnolipid, saponin and tannin) for possible applications in washing crude oil contaminated soil was carried out. The biosurfactants behaviour in soil-water, water-oil and oil-soil systems (such as foaming, solubilization, sorption to soil, emulsification, surface and interfacial tension) was measured and compared with a well-known chemical surfactant (sodium dodecyl sulphate, SDS) at varying concentrations. Results showed that the biosurfactants were able to remove significant amount of crude oil from the contaminated soil at different solution concentrations for instance rhamnolipid and SDS removed up to 80% oil and lecithin about 42%. The performance of water alone in crude oil removal was equally as good as those of the other biosurfactants. Oil removal was due to mobilization, caused by the reduction of surface and interfacial tensions. Solubilization and emulsification effects in oil removal were negligible due to the low crude oil solubilization of 0.11%. Therefore, these studies suggest that knowledge of surfactants' behaviour across different systems is paramount before their use in the practical application of oil removal. © 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1139-1150
Number of pages12
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004


  • Biosurfactants
  • Contaminated soil
  • Crude oil
  • Oil removal
  • Soil washing


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