Introduction to Petroleum Biotechnology - Chapter 12: The Future of Petroleum Biotechnology

Elsevier, Introduction to Petroleum Biotechnology, 2018, Pages 471-483.
James G. Speight and Nour Shafik El-Gendy

Biotransformation (biorefining) is the use of living organisms such as microbes in order to upgrade petroleum, that is, the application of bioprocesses to the fractionation and enhancing of petroleum, which might contribute to mitigate the associated pollution and upgrading of crude oil. This chapter deals with the future trends in the petroleum refinery industry, focusing on biotransformation, which is an umbrella term dealing with biorefining, removal of petroleum-based pollutants from the environment (bioremediation), and converting petroleum constituents to useful products, all using microorganisms, so that the reliance on physicochemical processes like denitrogenation, desulfurization, demetallization are reduced, thus reducing the harmful effects of chemicals, involved in these processes, on the environment and making the process of refining cost-effective. The contributions of biotechnology to the energy industry are not restricted to the production of biofuels and the microbial production of methane may well be the largest contribution in the future. Another concept gaining considerable momentum is the biorefinery, which could significantly reduce production costs of plant-based chemicals and facilitate their substitution in existing markets.