Little is known about the microbiology of the deep subsurface.
Industrial activities such as oil and gas recovery, gas storage, drinking-water production and thermal-energy storage are affected by and affect microbial processes. We study anaerobic communities in oil reservoirs and water wells. The physiology of deep subsurface anaerobes is studied with a focus on chemotrophic CO2 fixation, and nutrient sharing. In collaboration with Shell (Bart Lomans) we study strategies to use microbes to enhance oil recovery and to mitigate souring (H2S formation), by adding alternative electron acceptors such as nitrate and chlorate. We are now also assessing the role microorganisms (acetogens, methanogens, sulfate reducers) may play during gas storage in reservoirs.