Novel approaches in the use of biosurfactants in the oil industry and environmental remediation

Christina Nikolova, Tony Gutierrez

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Surfactants are a group of amphiphilic chemical compounds (i.e., having both hydrophobic and hydrophilic domains) that form an indispensable component in almost every sector of modern industry. Most surfactants that are used today for industrial applications are synthetically manufactured via organo-chemical synthesis using petrochemicals as precursors. This is problematic, not only because they are derived from nonrenewable resources, but also because of their environmental incompatibility and potential toxicological effects to humans and other organisms. This is timely as one of today’s key challenges is to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas) and to move toward using renewable and sustainable sources. This has been a major drive for research in recent decades toward the discovery of naturally derived surfactants, namely biosurfactants. Considering the enormous genetic diversity that microorganisms possess, they offer considerable promise in producing novel types of biosurfactants for replacing those that are produced from organo-chemical synthesis, and the marine environment offers enormous potential in this respect. The applications of biosurfactants in the oil and gas industry are wide – form enhancing oil recovery from mature oil fields to combatting oil spills. Here, we review the current state-of-knowledge in the application of biosurfactants in the oil industry, including their use for bioremediation of contaminated sites.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiosurfactants
Subtitle of host publicationResearch and Development
EditorsGloria Soberon-Chavez
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780323985611
ISBN (Print)9780323916974
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jan 2023

Publication series

NameFoundations and Frontiers of Biocatalysis


  • Biosurfactants
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Marine environment
  • Microbial enhanced oil recovery
  • Microorganisms
  • Surface-active agents

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology


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