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Silica Encapsulated Biocatalysts for Bioremediation of Fracking Wastewater

Technology #20110080

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BioremediationCustomized for FrackingWastewater Treatment
Alptekin Aksan, PhD
Department of Mechanical Engineering, College of Science and Engineering
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Michael Sadowsky, PhD
Director Biotechnology Institute
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Lawrence Wackett, PhD
Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics, College of Biological Sciences
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Leza Besemann
Technology Marketing Manager 612-625-8615
Patent Protection

PCT Patent Application PCT/US2012/026031

Silica Encapsulated Biocatalysts for Treatment of Fracking Water

A silica matrix formulation has been developed that can encapsulate biological catalysts for the treatment of wastewater from a multitude of sources, including fracking. Naturally occurring mircobes can break down harmful chemicals such as benzene, toluene and aldehydes. By encapsulating these microbes in a silica matrix, the material can be separated from the liquid once remediation is complete. Identified microbes can target different chemicals, which are degraded rather then removed; mixtures of encapsulated microbes can be tailored to the specific wastewater problem.

Bioremediation Treatment of Wastewater

Using a silica matrix stabilizes the microbes for transport and eliminates the need for a fermenter at each site, reducing the need for capital and energy intensive equipment. The microbes are also protected from predators and competition between microbes, extending the life of the microbe and allowing for reuse of the material. The material can be used in a variety of areas in the fracking process: holding tanks, settling ponds and in the well; the silica matrix increases the tolerance to toxins, salinity pH and temperature, increasing versatility.


  • Low cost and easy to manufacture; eliminates the need for expensive capital equipment.
  • Stabilizes the microbes and provides increased tolerance to toxins, salinity, pH and temperature.
  • Degrades harmful chemicals rather than simply removing them.
  • Mixtures of microbes can be tailored to the chemical mixture to be removed and the material separated and reused.