Bioremediation of Oil Spills

Topics: Balancing Chemical Reactions, Using Stoichiometry
Getting bacteria to eat oil is a powerful approach to cleaning up oil spills, and the first step is adding a bioremediation accelerator to form clumps that the bacteria will eat. Students perform experiments to determine the stoichiometric relationship between the accelerator molecules and the oil molecules so they can recommend the correct amount of accelerator to the clean-up crew. The reaction between the remediator and the oil provides a context for understanding stochiometric proportions and limiting reagents.