Scrubbing sites of radiation is no easy task, not to mention costly. Aside from all the technical hurdles, the potential health hazards drive up the cost further, making it feasible in only the most necessary of cases. But researchers at the University of Missouri have found a work force that may be willing to clean up our radioactive messes on the cheap.
Judy Wall, a biochemistry professor at the University of Missouri, has found that certain sulfate-reducing bacteria can convert the toxic forms of radioactive metals to inert substances, by altering the solubility of heavy metals. For instance, these bacteria can turn radioactive uranium to the nearly-insoluble form uraninite naturally, no Hazmat suit required. The radioactivity of the substances isn't removed, but the metals are no longer chemically available to be absorbed by organisms that might be harmed by them.
With a tweak here and there, these bacteria could clean up abandoned uranium mines, industrial waste riddled with heavy metals and storage tanks where radioactive materials have been stowed. They also might be able to cleanse water of heavy metal pollutants. The bacteria are already present in more than 7,000 heavy metal contaminated sites, but there's one tiny catch: the bacteria only live at highly specific levels of oxygen and temperature, making them a finicky work force to boss around.
Wall and collaborators from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab are working with the bacteria in a sealed environment to isolate genes in order to develop an oxygen-tolerant strain. The obstacles are many, but the team has already isolated a handful of genes critical to converting uranium. If successful, environmental authorities could potentially reclaim large areas long ago contaminated by mining and industry without the expense, or hazard, of putting human bodies to the task.
two sides to this:
1) Makes nuclear power plant wastes scrubbed
2) Makes it an easier decion wether or not to destroy the middle east along with Al Quidah with some nukes and then just clean it all up with some bacteria over several years
Don't think this technology will be used to justify the building of more nuclear power plants (sic).
its what I would do if I were them :D
nuclear power = amazing effiency + energy to spare
solar panels = environmental psychos + uneducated public
I guess I'm slow. "The radioactivity of the substance is not removed." So how is this a breakthrough? Radiation is Radiation isn't it? So it's no longer technically enriched/depleted uranium, but it is still some radioactive washout. Big deal. Do I still have to store this byproduct for 2 million years?
stjohnson is correct, the radioactive properties cannot be altered by bacteria at all. Btw, the radiation will likely kill off the bacteria anyways..depending on how active it is.
No breakthrough here.
Isn't this what Washington University was doing? To clean up Hanford?
Uranium likes to oxidize, which makes it a hazard for storing as waste because of its ability to dissolve in water as an oxide. The bacteria convert the Uranium 6+ to U 4+, which is very insoluble.
As a temporary solution, Turkish companies started to use another Black Sea port city of Samsun for their shipments for merchantships bound to Novorossiski port, 200 kilometers from Sochi
i hope when after we used it to cleanup the mess n i hope this thing will not come back to destroy the evironment n i know it was go around will come around when u created a good thing there is always a bad thing come with it
GO JUDY GO!!!