Pressure BioSciences Inc.’s (NSDQ:PBIO) high pressure laboratory sample preparation systems are headed to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory to help scientists better understand the microorganisms that inhabit naturally occurring oil plumes.
The researchers hope that increased understanding of oil-degrading microbes will lead to more environmentally sound tactics for cleaning up oil spills.
LBNL post-doctoral fellow Olivia Mason said the researchers are attempting to determine the microbes’ role in bio-remediation of deep-sea oil plumes.
The goal is "to develop technologies that utilize indigenous microorganisms in enhancing oil recovery," she said in a prepared statement.
The clean-up effort during and after the British Petroleum oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico used chemical dispersants, skimming, booms and controlled burns to handle the spilled crude, but according to LBNL earth sciences division senior staff scientist Janet Jansson, "one of the most promising — and environmentally safest — strategies is to rely on natural microorganisms to degrade the oil before it can accumulate."
Due to the low number of microbes in samples of microbial communities associated with oil reservoirs, the scientists need to increase the sensitivity of their sample preparation methods. Pressure BioSciences’ pressure cycling technology is capable of generating extremely high pressures — in some cases equivalent to pressures found at the bottom of the Marianas Trench, more than five miles deep in the Pacific Ocean — to help break down lab samples. Jansson said the device delivers greater nucleic acid and protein yields from low concentrations of microorganisms, when compared to other methods.
The Berkeley, Calif.-based lab will install three additional NEP3229 PCT sample preparation systems, to bring the institution’s total number of PBIO’s pressure cycling devices to four, said Pressure BioSciences.
It’s good news for the Easton, Mass.-based company, which posted a net loss of $925,000, or 35 cents per diluted share, on sales of $402,000 during the three months ended June 30. That compares with net losses of $848,000, or 39 cents per share, on sales of $270,000 during the same period last year.
PBIO shares were down 3.2 percent to $1.50 in early morning trading.