Central composite design (CCD) and response surface methodology (RSM) were employed to optimize four important variables, i.e. amounts of oil, bacterial inoculum, nitrogen and phosphorus, for the removal of selected n-alkanes during bioremediation of weathered crude oil in coastal sediments using laboratory bioreactors over a 60 day experimentation period. The reactors contained 1 kg soil with different oil, microorganisms and nutrients concentrations. The F Value of 26.89 and the probability value (P < 0.0001) demonstrated significance of the regression model. For crude oil concentration of 2, 16 and 30 g per kg sediments and under optimized conditions, n-alkanes removal was 97.38, 93.14 and 90.21% respectively. Natural attenuation removed 30.07, 25.92 and 23.09% n-alkanes from 2, 16 and 30 g oil/kg sediments respectively. Excessive nutrients addition was found to inhibit bioremediation.
Keywords: bioaugmentation, biodegradation, biostimulation, hydrocarbon, petroleum