Phages A virus could help save billions of gallons of wastewater produced by fracking (Mar 2024) Using Bacteriophages to Treat Resilient Bacteria Found in Produced Water

Michael Harrop

Active member
Jul 6, 2023

Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Bacillus megaterium. P. aeruginosa has the ability to corrode stainless steel and presents a challenge for the longevity of pipelines and other metal-based infrastructure, while B. megaterium, can decompose hydrocarbons — the basis for oil.

Sánchez, along with one of his collaborators, Zacariah Hildenbrand, Ph.D., a UTEP alum, were inspired to use bacteriophages based on their applications in the medical industry, where they are used to combat infections caused by multi-drug resistant bacteria.

“Since the bacteria are living organisms, over time they developed a resistance, in the form of a less penetrable membrane, to traditional disinfectants,” Sánchez explained. “But the bacteriophages, which are viruses themselves, attach to specific receptors on the surface of the host cell and evolve alongside the bacteria they are trying to infect, meaning that any resistance acquired by the bacteria triggers the modification of bacteriophages to keep the infection going.”


Numerous treatment modalities have been employed over the years to eradicate bacterial communities in industrial wastewater. Oxidizing agents and chemical additives, such as ozone, permanganate, glutaraldehyde, and chlorine, are effective in treating microbial contaminants that are typically found in domestic wastewater. However, the chemical complexity of water produced from fracking requires novel approaches, because the microbes have developed mechanisms to overcome typical disinfectants.

In this work, we test the effectiveness of bacteriophages for the eradication of two model bacteria from produced water: Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Bacillus megaterium. These bacteria were grown in low salinity produced water and exposed to their corresponding phage. Overall, the total inactivation of the P. aeruginosa population was achieved, as well as the inactivation of B. megaterium.

These promising results provide a potentially useful tool for bacterial elimination in overall PW treatment, at an industrial scale. Particularly, since phage treatment is a rapid and cost-effective alternative. Moreover, these results fall within the objectives proposed as part of the sustainable development goals adopted worldwide.
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interesting, ironically the bi product than becomes a resource and will now be a costly resource in which they( the companies using the water to frack) will have to claim and that could be a reason it has not been used as more than waste.