Technology is a great industry as it has led to the improvement of the human lifestyle and the world at large. However, it has also had detrimental effects on the environment due to high pollution and increased human activity. As a solution to pollution, scientists developed environmental biotechnology.
Environmental biotechnology is a branch of science that uses living organisms and innovation to provide effective solutions for environmental problems. This is one of the industries that have experienced positive results following tech advancement and discoveries.
Environmental Biotechnology manipulates the microbial organisms while exploiting their beneficial properties to serve the human community. This has paved the way for efficient environmental conservation strategies against global warming and climate change.
With the promising advancements in environmental biotechnology, there’s no telling what to expect in the future. Today, you can control pollution better and exercise environmental remediation thanks to advancements in environmental biotechnology.
But, here are the trends in environmental biotechnology that are shaping the industry in 2020!
Top 10 Trends in Environmental Biotechnology
Industrialization and increased human activity have led to environmental degradation due to soil, water, and air pollution. Although there are set regulations each industry should follow to conserve the environment, it remains a daunting task. Scientists have realized that, if you can’t control the waste being released, maybe you can manage it.
Initially, chemicals were used to treat waste and other pollutants. However, chemicals turned out to be costly and inefficient. With technological advancement and enhancement in knowledge, scientists now develop sustainable waste treatment and pollutant removal strategies. This branch of biotechnology relies on beneficial microorganisms to create a safe, greener environment.
Some of the emerging environmental biotechnology trends in 2020 are:
Without environmental biotechnology, the world would be full of pollutants and industrial waste. These are elements contributing most to global warming and climate change.
Scientists are now using technology to purify the pollutants for a quality environment.
In bioremediation, micro-organisms detoxify pollutants either in water, sediments, or soil. To achieve the purification goal, scientists use processes such as bio-restoration, bio-treatment, and bio-reclamation.
Microbial Enhanced Oil Recovery (MEOR)
Technological advancement has allowed scientists to apply different molecular approaches to encourage hydrocarbon utilization in oil wells. This purifies the oil, therefore, reducing processing costs for increased profitability.
Genomic and proteomic isolations allow for profiling through technologies like fingerprinting and sequencing. This enables scientists to better understand each community and species for creative exploitation.
In MEOR, scientists cultivate hydrocarbon-consuming bacteria that remove pollutants from wells underground, therefore, cleaning the soil. This promotes environmental bioremediation.
MEOR also enables investors to identify new oil wells even with the depleting oilfields.
Bio-electrochemical systems like microbial electrolysis cell or microbial fuel cells are the innovation behind fuel production from biodegradable organic matter. The systems use a biofilm catalyst to create electrical energy or hydrogen.
Besides reducing energy consumption during waste treatment, bio-electrochemical systems will generate adequate electrical energy for industrial or domestic use.
Environmental biotechnologists recognize the important role that bio-electrochemical systems in waste remediation. To exploit the capabilities of this technology, these scientists turn to microbial electro-remediation. The aim of using this innovative waste management strategy is to generate sustainable energy through electro-genesis while recovering the resources.
Industrial waste treatment
Industrial waste is the leading cause of environmental pollution, hence blamed for the climate change effects being experienced on earth. However, advancements in environmental biotechnology have given the world a second chance at saving this planet.
Using microorganisms, biotechnologists can technically and economically treat waste. This process relies on controlled biodegradation and detoxification for a quality environment.
To accelerate the degradation process to treat large volumes of waste, companies are now using bio-augmentation. This innovation comes in handy when you have a low volume of microorganisms for successful bioremediation. Bio-augmentation allows the waste treatment system to achieve its goal regardless of the underlying extraneous factors.
After years of industrialization and human ignorance, the soil is accumulated with heavy metals and other pollutants that affect its physical properties and fertility. This negative environmental impact has adversely affected the agricultural sector, hence the need for soil treatment.
Soil remediation has been around for the longest time but is expensive and inefficient. Phytoremediation happens to be the immediate and most effective soil remediation method. In this process, environmental biotechnologists rely on genetically modified organisms to extract heavy metals and other pollutants in the soil.
The different forms of phytoremediation are phytoextraction, phytodegradation, phytotransformation, phytostabilization, and phytovolatilization.
Biofuels for microbial and process engineering
Innovative approaches in environmental biotechnology have paved the way for the sustainable development of biofuels to use in the engineering aspects. Environmental biotechnologists use innovative approaches to convert plants into biofuels.
Microalgae such as hyacinth undergo bio-refining to reduce water pollution that has endangered the lives of biotic animals and plants. This will meet the need for alternative energy sources that promote environmental conservation for a quality, greener planet.
Creative management of chromium phytotoxicity
Chromium is a toxic chemical that will not only affect the growth of flora but also the development of fauna. Because of the danger chromium poses on human life and the environment, environmental biotechnology has created strategies to prevent these phytotoxic effects. The ameliorative approach is the main process of reducing the chromium being released in industrial waste and to the environment.
Amelioration has limited after-use risks as compared to the traditional metal chelation process.
Enhanced Biological Phosphorous Removal (EBPR)
EBPR is a technologically advanced process of treating sewage in small scale or domestic wastewater. This system needs an activated sludge that is configured to remove phosphate which is a toxic pollutant.
EBPR is preferable since it’s cost-effective and is highly sustainable since you only need to obtain the phosphorous-accumulating organisms (PAO).
Environmental biotechnology has seen the development of biosensors that improve bio-monitoring of environmental changes along with the treatment processes. Biosensors come with physiochemical detectors that will sense the presence of certain chemicals in wastewater for remediation.
Microarrays can complement the biosensors to determine how toxic or concentrated a certain pollutant is. This is one of the latest technologies in environmental biotechnology and it aims at improving waste treatment efficiency.
10 Must-Know Statistics About Environmental Biotechnology
The environmental biotechnology industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors today due to the drive to conserve planet earth for a greener future. This branch of science allows biotechnologists to manipulate microorganisms for their beneficial properties to clean the environment.
Sustainable treatment of wastewater, its subsequent recycling, and biofuel production are some of the ways the society is benefiting from environmental biotechnology. Although the volume of industrial and domestic waste is high, we no longer have to worry about releasing it into the environment. Companies are now installing sophisticated waste treatment systems and turning to alternative energy sources like biofuels for sustainability.
Here are some of the important statistics you should know about environmental biotechnology:
- The U.S accounts for over 30 percent of the global industrial waste.
- Over 1.2 trillion gallons of industrial waste goes through sustainable treatment systems before it is directed back into the supply system.
- Environmental biotechnology operates more than 15 million biogas digesters globally intending to promote zero-waste agriculture.
- The U.S is at the forefront of containment management in dealing with medical waste. The market value for this technology was estimated at $3.2 billion in 2017.
- The compound annual growth was 4.8 percent at the time. This means that sustainable waste management is now being preferred as more people are recognizing the impact of pollution on the environment.
- The estimated growth compound annual growth rate of separation system technology was a whopping 12.8 percent by 2016.
- With a value of about $26.7 billion, separation system technology is expected to grow tremendously in 2020.
- The sales of environmental biotechnology products in the U.S was at $382.3 million in 2018. With the support of the government, public, and private institutions are affording the industry, the compound annual growth rate is expected to rise in 2020.
- Biofuel production has increased tremendously with sustainable electricity making up 25 percent of the electric power in 2017.
- The U.S is the leading biofuel producer in the world standing at 1,557 petajoules as of 2019. Despite the high supply of biofuels in the U.S, the demand is low. This might reflect on the low adoption rate for biofuels as an alternative fuel source to reduce pollution and hence, climate change.
Environmental Biotechnology and Its Future
Environmental biotechnology plays a significant role in protecting biodiversity (plants, animals, and human beings). The drive for a safer planet has led to the creation of various innovations to increase efficiency and promote sustainability. Various government agencies, public, and private institutions are today investing largely in environmental biotechnology. As such, it’s future lies in the existence of improvement opportunities to:
- Reduce industrial waste release
- Remediate environmental contamination
- Prevent pollution
Although these trends in the environmental biotechnology industry have taken root and positively changed society, the current COVID-19 pandemic has forced some projects to halt. So, the expected explosive growth in 2020 may slow down for a while.
The application of environmental biotechnology in wastewater treatment and bioremediation has not come even half-way. Future expectations for rapid improvements and growth in the industry exist as more research resources are now available. Various governments globally have set regulations that ease the patent acquisition process for reliable and efficient environmental biotechnology innovations.
More public sensitization is necessary to educate various communities on the importance of using biofuels as opposed to toxic pollutants. Environmental conservation is a global issue as climate change and global warming are the wakening call!