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Interaction between microalgae, marine snow and anionic polyacrylamide APAM at marine conditions

Interaction between microalgae, marine snow and anionic polyacrylamide APAM at marine conditions

Category
Journal publication
Abstract
When an oil field ages and the pressure in the reservoir decreases, or for oil fields with heavy oil, there may be a need for enhanced oil recovery (EOR) technologies. Polymer injection is a water-based EOR method where the viscosity of the water injected for pressure support is increased by mixing with a high concentration polymer solution. In this project, the potential fate of a synthetic anionic polyacrylamide (APAM) in seawater was investigated, since these EOR polymers may enter the marine environment with the produced water (PW). The main objective of the study was to determine if the APAM will interact with cells or aggregates (marine snow) of microalgae, resulting in potential polymer transport from the euphotic zone to the seabed. Three different species of microalgae with different degree of autotrophy (autotroph, mixotroph and heterotroph) were exposed to fluorescence-tagged APAM. Attachment to algal cells or aggregates formed by active or heat-inactivated algae were analysed by fluorescence microscopy and fluorometry. Our results strongly suggested that attachment of APAM to cells of the algal species included in his study was negligible. A carousel system with natural seawater (SW) was used for formation of algal aggregates, one of the key components of marine snow. When aggregates of the diatom Thalassiosira rotula were formed in the presence of the fluorescence-tagged APAM, and at SW temperatures relevant for the Norwegian Continental Shelf, the polymer was nearly exclusively measured in the water phase after separation from the aggregates. The aggregate measurements therefore confirmed the results from the attachment studies, and we found no evidence of accumulation of APAM in aggregates formed from algae. Marine snow from algae is therefore not expected to significantly contribute to sedimentation of APAM dissolved in the water column.
Language
English
Author(s)
Affiliation
  • SINTEF Ocean / Miljø og nye ressurser
  • Diverse norske bedrifter og organisasjoner
Year
2020
Published in
Science of the Total Environment
ISSN
0048-9697
Volume
705