SiREM and the University of Toronto led a proposal that successfully secured funding to evaluate benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene (BTEX) remediation under Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP).

SiREM ( partnered with University of Toronto’s Elizabeth Edwards, Ph.D., P.Eng. (Ontario); University of Alberta’s Ania Ulrich, Ph.D., P.Eng. (Alberta); and University of Waterloo’s Neil Thomson, Ph.D., P.Eng. (Ontario) as well as industry receptors Imperial Oil Canada and Federated Cooperatives Limited. This project is a joint academic industry partnership funded by GAPP and the industry receptors (including SIREM) as well as other sources, including Mitacs and Alberta Innovates.

The project’s overall goal is to increase the options available for cost-effective and sustainable bioremediation for the large number of BTEX-contaminated sites world-wide. BTEX compounds are a major component of petroleum hydrocarbons and are commonly found in groundwater and soil due to large- and small-scale spills. Existing remediation approaches often involve excavation or other costly approaches, and cost-effective technologies are needed to clean up sites contaminated with these toxic and carcinogenic compounds.

Research into specialized anaerobic bacteria that break down benzene into non-toxic compounds was initiated under a previous Genome Canada project funded from 2016-2019. SiREM partnered with University of Toronto’s Elizabeth Edwards and Federated Cooperatives Limited to scale up, field test, and commercialize a unique microbial culture that detoxifies benzene. This benzene degrading culture, called DGG-B™, is a promising candidate to introduce beneficial microorganisms to benzene contaminated sites through a process called bioaugmentation. The first field tests of this culture are scheduled for fall of 2019. In this new project, SiREM will grow additional novel BTEX cultures using specialized bioreactors and will pilot test selected cultures at sites owned by industry project receptors.

SiREM is a global leader in bioaugmentation, particularly for chlorinated solvent remediation. SiREM’s KB-1® culture, which was also developed in collaboration with Professor Edwards, has been used at hundreds of sites in North America and globally.

Sandra Dworatzek, a Principal Scientist at SiREM, summarizes the excitement surrounding the project: “We are extremely pleased that this significant funding to our academic partners will accelerate the development, commercialization, and application of innovative approaches for remediation of petroleum hydrocarbon sites that might otherwise be untreatable. We are excited to see how these cultures will perform at real-world sites.”

More Information

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For inquiries regarding BTEX remediation, contact Sandra Dworatzek at