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Invention of KU scientists: a breakthrough in oil spills clean-up

The Agency for Science, Innovation, and Technology (MITA) has approved the funding of the InoPatent programme for a project that will patent the invention of Klaipėda University scientists: the technology for petroleum hydrocarbon bioremediation using fungi.

The patented invention is intended for the use of fungal biomass selected from the coastal areas of the Baltic sea for deployment in marine environment affected by a petroleum hydrocarbon spillageAs an example, the present invention can be applied to the crude oil, alternative fuels and their blends clean-up. Furthermore, according to the present invention, it is also possible to use this method for additional application – for restoring the natural microflora at the point of application.

The method involves growing certain species of fungi, immobilizing them on a support material and scattering them on the surface of the water at the oil spills area. This method is cost-effective and environmentally friendly. Due to biological origin, method present some advantages compared to chemical surfactants, like better biocompatibility and biodegradability, reduced toxicity, activity and stability at extreme conditions of temperature, pH, and salinity.

The authors of the invention are senior researcher of the Marine Research Institute dr. Marija Kataržytė and senior researcher of the Faculty of Marine Technology and Natural Sciences dr. Tatjana Paulauskienė. The owner of the patent will be Klaipėda University.

During project implementation, the European Patent Office and the experts evaluating the application will be contacted regularly to adjust the patent application in accordance with their instructions. In the next stage, the invention is expected to be granted an international patent, which will attract business partners and create greater opportunities for the application of this technology in practice.