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Using bacteria to eliminate hydrocarbon residues

Marina Ibiza has become the first marina in Spain to promote and use a device known as Bio-Box, which uses a 100% natural product capable of digesting hydrocarbons.

The Marina Ibiza team is closely monitoring the results of the  Bio-Box installation.

The Marina Ibiza team is closely monitoring the results of the Bio-Box installation.

In the event of a spill in the marina’s waters or contamination spread via the Levant wind, the microscopic living beings in the Bio-Box help return the water to its purity and transparency without damaging the environment with toxic substances.
“This product is based on microorganisms composed of enzymes and bacteria. The enzymes are responsible for breaking down the molecular chain, in this case the hydrocarbon enzymes, by making them smaller. The bacteria can then digest them by transforming them into CO2 and clean water, without leaving residues,” says Mirko Abbruzzese, co-founder of La Alternativa Eco the promoter of Bio-Box in Spain.
The system consists of a hose that runs from its container along the pontoon to the sea, dripping bacteria into the water at a certain frequency while an air pump siphons oxygen into the water to activate the bacteria and begin the process.
The bacteria are protected shoreside by a box built specially for their conservation. This is strikingly decorated to create a visual impact and provide relevant information that raises awareness among marina users.
“The bacteria lie dormant in a special container on land. If necessary, they’re channelled into the sea and start creating their colony, but they always need sustenance, i.e. hydrocarbon (petrol, diesel, mineral oil, etc.) and oxygen, which we add with an air pump. When they reach the water and come into contact with oxygen, they’re activated and start to act,” Abbruzzese explains.
Daniel Marí, manager of Marina Ibiza, is closely monitoring the results of the small microorganisms as they’re an incredible natural solution to a problem with a huge environmental impact. The new system has been installed at a specific point in Marina Ibiza where, due to its proximity to the fuel station and also due to the easterly Levant wind, spills and dirt tend to build up. However, there are challenges because it’s a semi-open space, with movement of yachts and water currents.
The microorganisms begin to work as soon as they’re released into the sea by generating a natural foam, which is a sign that they’re active, and any patches gradually start to fade away, leaving the water crystal-clear and without an oily surface.
“There’s a widespread belief in the yachting industry that the right thing to do in the event of a spill is to throw a popular washing-up liquid into the water because it has a dispersing effect, but this product is harmful to marine flora and fauna, and has a long-lasting effect on the marine environment,” Abbruzzese notes, emphasising that these bacteria are a 100% organic bioremediation solution in the event of accidents, with results that can be seen straight away.
“The collaboration of Marina Ibiza in this project has been vital, as it has provided the place, the staff, and the technical and financial resources for the development of Bio-Box. On behalf of La Alternativa Eco, we’ve been responsible for the design and construction of the first bioremediation box that is energy-autonomous thanks to the installed solar panel. We’re very grateful and happy with this first step towards a more sustainable yachting industry,” says Abbruzzese’s business partner Diego de la Viña.

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