Methane is rendered less harmful to the atmosphere when it is oxidized from CH4 to water and CO2. This occurs as a result of physical chemistry (hydroxyl radical) and biologically when it is consumed by bacteria. Methanotrophic bacteria are, when harnessed for this purpose, a low cost, natural and efficient approach to achieve methane abatement. Their activity in oxic forest soils is the second most effective sink for atmospheric methane following the hydroxyl radical. Engineers require a reliable approach to quantify the effect of these bacteria so that they can design biocovers and biofilters to maximize their efficiency
Methane oxidation occurs in many natural systems and soils without human interference and serves as an important sink for natural methane emissions. Methane oxidation is a function of: (1) existence of methanotrophic microorganisms, (2) supply of oxygen, (3) suitable media that offers adequate nutrient supply and facilitates colonial formation, and (4) adequate moisture content and ambient conditions in the oxidizing media. Environmental factors also have a decisive impact on the activity of methanotrophic bacteria. Among these factors are pH, temperature, water content, oxygen supply, inhibitors, soil condition and nutrient supply, barometric pressure, and retention time.
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