The Ergofito Aqua oil remediator, manufactured locally by Cape Town-based bioproducts company Ergofito, is selling better internationally than locally, the company tells Engineering News.
Ergofito director Brian Rayner says the remediator, which combats oil contamination, was made available to the South African market in 2008. Ergofito Aqua provides on-site remediation for soil, as well as fresh water or seawater contaminated with any type of hydrocarbon by organically turning oil deposits on land and water into organic matter.
“It is the most cost-effective and intelligent means of dealing with oil contamination,” he states.
Ergofito’s overseas success is evidenced by the orders placed by companies in the US, the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Italy, Saudi Arabia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria and Oman.
Locally, Ergofito has successfully trialled transformer oil remediation using Ergofito Aqua for State-owned power utility Eskom and State-owned rail company Transnet.
The company has also conducted ground contamination tests for petrochemicals major Sasol, and has also trialled the product on forecourt cleanups and parking garage oil spills for several petrol stations, says Rayner.
He tells Engineering News that the speed of the remediation process depends on many factors, including ambient temperature and hydrocarbon type, as well as the depth and density of contamination. “Typically, Ergofito Aqua will remediate crude oil from 200 000 parts per million (ppm) down to 2 000 ppm in 15 days to a 99% oil-free level.”
About Ergofito Aqua
Rayner explains that Ergofito Aqua requires carbon, nitrogen and oxygen to function. It obtains carbon from the oil, nitrogen from Ergofito Aqua and oxygen from the environment. It also requires water to be mixed on application and might require more water in hot environments. The bacteria dies if it is not kept hydrated, says Rayner.
Further, Ergofito Aqua can remediate to a depth of about 30 cm before it is depleted of oxygenation. Soil applications require sod turning to encourage oxygenation and deep- water applications require the use of micro bubbles to be effective.
Rayner adds that the product is rendered dormant at temperatures lower than 0 ºC and that the bacteria dies at extreme temperatures of below –40 ºC and higher than 70 ºC.
He adds that warmer environments encourage bacteria growth and, therefore, faster remediation.
Ergofito Aqua needs to be mixed with water before being sprayed onto affected areas. Hand-held sprayers can be used for smaller applications, while aeroplanes or boats with spray booms are used for larger areas.
Broad Spectrum Application
Ergofito Aqua is certified in several countries worldwide, including the US, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, the Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Pakistan, New Zealand and those constituting the European Union.
Upon application, Ergofito Aqua attacks the hydrocarbons and converts it into humus – a dark, organic material that forms in soil when plant and animal matter decays. This eliminates the need for expensive excavation, relocation and disposal of the waste elements, says Rayner, adding that, once the conversion process is complete, the hydrocarbon waste is converted into an organic fertiliser.
He highlights that some conventional bio- remediation methods, while effective in the short term, are normally not economical or environment friendly in the long term. “These technologies either depend on chemicals or high-temperature incineration, which can be fraught with technical complexities,” Rayner says, adding that small-scale incinerations are costly and create toxic emissions, which result in less public acceptance.
Ergofito Aqua was developed to counter the limitations of conventional on-site remediation. As a 100% organic liquid oil, it can be used on site, even in the most sensitive ecosystems. “The natural ingredients of Ergofito Aqua are derived from natural glucides and essential amino acids – both powerful decomposing agents that stimulate the natural predisposition of certain bacteria to produce enzymes capable of breaking down hydrocarbons in organic matter,” he explains.
Hydrocarbons are transformed into bacterial proteins that form a biological mud and a mixture of soluble fatty acids. Rayner tells Engineering News that the final product is 100% environment friendly and favours the development of beneficial organisms and microbes. “The bacteria are affected by ambient temperatures – the warmer it is, the faster and more efficiently the bacteria will work,” he says.
Further, Rayner says,s when using Ergofito Aqua, the bioremediation process is fast and cost effective and, in most cases, enables the reuse of the treated soil while providing adequate protection for human health and the environment.
The long-term benefit of using Ergofito Aqua is that it facilitates biodegradation by natural means.
The solution is actively used in the bioremediation of pit closures, pipeline and flowline leaks, wellhead and tank farm leaks, on-site soil remediation, tank cleaning, compressor stations, surface hydrocarbon spills and drill cuttings.
It can also be used to control odour, such as at landfills and sewerage plants, as well as for vapour suppression and tank degassing.
Ergofito Aqua is sold in 0.5 kg, 1 kg, 5 kg, 10 kg, 25 kg and 1 000 kg containers.