A fully equipped Containment Level 2 microbiology laboratory is available with the capability of handling geological materials (core materials and groundwaters). The Facility specialises in evaluating the impacts of CO2 injection on deep subsurface indigenous microbial populations and the effects of those organisms on the movement of CO2, solutes and contaminants.
Equipment and techniques include:
Microaerophilic/Anaerobic Chamber – a variable atmosphere workstation to study O2 sensitive microbes.
Molecular microbiology equipment - for DNA extraction and amplification (PCR) for identification of microbial isolates and characterisation of microbial communities (Denaturing Gradient Gel Electrophoresis)
Deltatox analyser –for total viable biomass quantification using ATP analysis.
Microtox analyser – for the measurement of bio-toxicity in aquatic and solid phase samples
Biological Flow Apparatus – bespoke flow-through equipment investigating microbial effects on transport properties in intact/fractured rock cores under in-situ conditions.
Incubators for the cultivation and isolation of bacteria.
Epifluorescence microscopy for the assessment of bacterial numbers.
Environmental issues and the geological storage of carbon dioxide – extensive research has been undertaken in the UK and overseas into the effects of carbon dioxide (CO2) leakage on marine and terrestrial ecosystems
The influences of microbes and biofilms on mass transport properties through geological media – using the biological flow apparatus
Development of the in-house BGSE code to determine controls on subsurface microbial growth; ongoing research is updating and improving this model
Microbial effects on mineral dissolution and precipitation
Groundwater quality, including transport and viability studies in groundwater systems
Development of imaging to assess distribution and enumeration of microorganisms in geological materials
The Facility has a proven track record investigating the effects of CO2 leakage on ecosystems. For over 5 years it has conducted extensive research in both the UK and overseas and currently involved in projects assessing the ecosystem response to CO2 leakage and in understanding microbial activity in the reservoir.
The Facility can examine the impacts of CO2 injection on deep subsurface microbial populations and the impacts of those organisms on CO2 movement in the deep subsurface. Work in the field evaluates the environmental impacts of CO2 on surface ecosystems (e.g. botany) followed by laboratory based microbiology (e.g. DNA based methods, epifluorescence, microtox).
The Biological Flow Apparatus (BFA) can be modified to investigate interactions between microbes and injected CO2 in fractured or intact rock cores under realistic conditions of pressure and temperature.