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The world is facing an urgent need for innovative solutions to tackle environmental pollution and degradation. Bioremediation, the use of living organisms to remove or neutralize pollutants, has emerged as a promising approach to restoring contaminated ecosystems. The global bioremediation market is expected to witness substantial growth in the coming years, driven by increasing environmental regulations and growing awareness about the benefits of sustainable remediation practices.
In this article, we will explore the latest projections for the global bioremediation market and discuss the exciting future opportunities that lie ahead. So firstly, we must understand what exactly bioremediation is.
The global population continues to rise at an astonishing rate. Agriculture systems and industries will need to expand to support such a large number of people. With their expansion comes an increase in soil, air, and water pollution. 99% of the global population breathes in polluted air. 80% of our global wastewater goes untreated, ending up in oceans with toxic industrial discharges and harming marine life. In 2018, the world generated 292.4 million tons of waste, much of which ended up in landfills or dumped into the oceans.
Microbes might be the solution to controlling our pollution. Microorganisms can break down a wide range of organic compounds. They can even absorb inorganic substances. Scientists use microbes to treat polluted areas in processes known as ‘bioremediation’.
Bioremediation refers to using microorganisms to break down pollutants into non-toxic substances, reducing pollution biologically.
There are three primary types of bioremediation. They are:
Here, bacteria need a stimulating environment to begin the process of bioremediation. Scientists mix contaminated soil with various types of nutrients such as oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorous, etc. These nutrients stimulate the growth of microbes. The microbes then break down pollutants and contaminants in the soil.
Bioaugmentation is mainly used to treat contaminated subsurface and groundwater. Here, scientists add cultured microorganisms to the polluted water body. The microorganisms remove pollutants from the water and restore it to its original water quality. There is, however, one major drawback. After adding them to the water, it becomes almost impossible to control the micro-organisms’ growth.
Intrinsic bioremediation involves the conversion of environmental pollutants into harmless forms by microorganisms. Humans do not intervene in this process. Humans do not even introduce micro-organisms into the contaminated environment. The polluted environment already contains naturally existing, in-situ micro-organisms. These organisms help degrade organic pollutants in the environment. It is also known as in-situ bioremediation.
Many prefer bioremediation over other chemical and physical remediation methods. This is because bioremediation is low-cost and eco-friendly. Many global market players and leading companies have begun to focus on adopting bioremediation technologies to eliminate contaminants and pollutants.
Increasing environmental pollution, rapid urbanization, and industrialization are raising bioremediation’s popularity across the globe. The increasing adoption of bioremediation technologies, increasing investments in research and development, and a focus on developing advanced and cost-effective technologies are some factors expected to fuel the bioremediation market revenue growth. However, industry experts predict other factors, like the lack of awareness about bioremediation methods and the high cost of obtaining micro-organisms, hamper revenue growth to a certain extent.
Phytoremediation (using plants to remove contaminants from soil and groundwater) will account for the largest revenue share by 2027. Phytoremediation is a sustainable and cost-effective application of bioremediation. Increasing concerns about water and soil pollution will also increase the demand for phytoremediation techniques.
North America is the global leader in contributions to the bioremediation market. In 2018, the North American bioremediation market recorded a value of 9.66 billion dollars. Experts predict the market to grow at a rate of 6.52% every year. The growth is mainly due to the rise in companies such as Altogen Labs, Green Apple Environmental Technologies, Oil Spill Eater International, etc.
Asia-Pacific entered the bioremediation market as the fastest-growing region. Increasing industrialization and urbanization in the area have given rise to serious environmental pollution problems. The pollution problems led to governments employing bioremediation to overcome them, causing rapid growth in the market. Also, government initiatives for river clean-up and conservation through bioremediation and the engagement between public and private bodies for bioremediation activities drive the development of the bioremediation market.
In 2019, economists placed the global bioremediation market at a value of 105.68 billion dollars. Experts have forecasted that this value will reach 334.70 billion dollars by 2027, with an annual growth rate of 15.5%.
The awareness about bioremediation has increased over the past years. Many people are increasingly adopting these natural methods of treating wastewater since synthetic strategies have proved inefficient over the years. Governments around the world are trying to focus on environmental protection, driving growth in bioremediation technology and services.
Developments in technology and next-generation sequencing have allowed scientists to study the genomics of environmentally significant microbes. These provide valuable insights into other pathways of microbial degradation.
Bioremediation is an expensive yet effective way of restoring contaminated environments. Many field tests for bioremediation have had inadequate design, bad controls, and improper analysis. All these factors have led to uncertainty when selecting response options. Therefore, future field studies must invest serious efforts into adopting scientifically acceptable approaches.
We also need investments in getting quality data about microbes for bioremediation. There is a world of microbes with diverse detoxification abilities waiting to be explored. We need a better understanding of the diversity in micro-organisms, especially those in petroleum-contaminated environments. This will help in developing better bioremediation strategies and preserving terrestrial and marine ecosystems.
Bioremediation is not new to our world. But, as our knowledge of the underlying microbial contaminant-removing reactions grows, our ability to use them to our advantage will increase. Bioremediation requires fewer resources and less energy than other conventional forms of technology used to reduce pollution. We can even tailor bioremediation to the needs of the polluted site in question. We can also encourage the growth of microbes needed to break down pollutants at that specific site by selecting the limiting factor for them to thrive. Further tailoring our bioremediation needs by using synthetic biology tools. We can pre-adapt microbes to the environment into which they need to be added. So that when the time comes for them to work their magic, they do so with exceptional efficiency.
Air, water, and soil pollution is a threat to our health and the Earth. It damages ecosystems, wildlife, and environments and affects the sustainability of our planet. Bioremediation can effectively remove and reduce the pollution we cause. It can provide us with clean drinking water, beautiful landscapes, clean air, and healthy soils for generations to come.