Bioreactor & Geomicrobiology Laboratory

The Bioreactor & Geomicrobiology Laboratory at The University of Melbourne is Australia’s only purpose-built laboratory for studying the effects of supercritical CO2 on subsurface microorganisms under reservoir conditions. It enables a new and complementary research direction for Australia that parallels international research efforts. The project is advancing general research into CO2 storage optimisation strategies through innovative and experimental geo-microbiological approaches. The Bioreactor is used to research the microbial and biogeochemical processes that can affect aquifer porosity, mineralogy and chemistry. It will also investigate direct and indirect microbial responses to elevated CO2 in geological formations. Benefits for industry include understanding the existing microbial environment of a storage site to predict how the injection of CO2 may impact microbial activity on the formation or dissolution of minerals and the effects of co-injected SOx and NOx.

Key CCS Focus:

  • Determination of the potential for biofilm formation to mitigate potential CO2 leakage.
  • Molecular-scale characterisation of direct and indirect microbial responses within geological milieu to elevated/supercritical CO2 heterogeneous formations such as laminated sands.

Resulting Publications

Watts et al. (2017) Characterization of an autotrophic bioreactor microbial consortium degrading thiocyanate. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, 101, 5889 – 5901.

Watts et al. (2019) Genome-resolved metagenomics of an autotrophic thiocyanate-remediating microbial bioreactor consortium. Water Research, 158, 106-117.

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