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Sulfate Reducing Bacteria

I am not surprised that little O2 consumption took place. The likeliest cause is SRB's (sulfate reducing bacteria) which oxidise hydrocarbons but do not consume oxygen. Instead they use the abundant sulfate in seawater and excrete either sulfur or H2S. This should be obvious to anyone who knows the sulfur business, since the world has used Gulf sulfur for may years, extracted by the Frasch process. In that case the natural seeps fed hydrocarbons to the bacteria, and they deposited vast amounts of sulfur as they ate the oil over millenia.

SRB's are used industrially. In a Dutch zinc plant I worked with they use them to remove metal sulfates from plant effluent. Originally the bacteria were supplied ethanol (so instantly it was the 'drunken bugs' process) but now they feed them hydrogen gas and CO2, since they are cheaper.


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