RUTGERS - THE STATE UNIV NEW BRUNSWICK NJ DEPT OF BIOCHEMISTRY AND MICROBIOLOGY
Biodegradation of polluting oil at sea is seriously limited by the scarcity of nitrogen and phosphorus. Since water soluble sources of these elements could be ineffective in the ocean, oleophilic compounds were screened to serve as fertilizers for oil slicks. A combination of paraffinized urea and octylphosphate was found to promote oil biodegradation both in laboratory experiments and in field trials to an extent that the practical application of this principle to oil cleanup appears feasible. The tested oleophilic fertilizer supplies nutrients to hydrocarbon-degrading microorganisms selectively, and in contrast to nitrate and phosphate salts it does not trigger algal blooms.