Sunday, September 14, 2008

Petroleum vs. paper industry microbiology - an exciting analogy.

IM has noticed an most interesting review by Lewis R. Brown in SIM News September/October 2007 (SIM = Society of Industrial Microbiology). The author presents us various topics of petroleum microbiology which can significantly help this industrial branch to locate new deposits, to increase production rates, to eliminate corrosion caused by H2S and to have new tools for the bioremediation of oil spills.

What especially has waken IM up was the obvious analogy between petroleum and paper industry microbiology: similar reasons have caused a lag period of the benefication of microbiology. Here are some lines from the beginning of this review article:

" It must be remembered that it was not until the 1940's that a U.S. oil company hired a full-time microbiologist, thus most of the research on petroleum microbiology was conducted in university laboratories. Consequently, potential uses of microbes in the industry were based on laboratory experiments, not field demonstrations, and were viewed with certain amount of scepticism. Also, it must be remembered that microbiology as a science was less than a hundred years old at that time and therefore people in other disciplines, e.g., geology and petroleum engineering, had little or no understanding of microbiology...".

Sounds very familiar to a microbiologist, working for  paper industry. A lot should to be done to publish the multitude of  issues of microbiology which could help paper industry to minimize microbiological problems, to secure product quality and to have benefits served by biotechnological products like enzymes in the manufacture of pulps, papers and boards.