Ariel Schwartz

E.Coli Cleans Up Nuclear Waste Cheaply, Efficiently

by , 09/22/09
filed under: Uncategorized

ecoli

E. Coli does more than just make people sick — it can also be used to clean up nuclear waste, according to researchers at Birmingham University. The research team found that E. Coli bacteria effectively breaks down phytic acid (a phosphate storage material found in seeds) and releases the phosphate molecules, which bind to uranium to create a uranium phosphate precipitate. The precipitate can be harvested to recover uranium, and voila – no more nuclear waste.

sustainable design, green design, e.coli, waste reduction, nuclear waste, biology

The uranium recovery process isn’t new. It was discovered in 1995, but scientists used an additive that was more expensive and less efficient than phytic acid. And since the price of uranium was low at the time, scientists saw no need to look into commercializing the process. But with an uptick in the price of uranium and the discovery of phytic acid’s effectiveness, the process has become economically viable.

In addition to cleaning up nuclear waste sites, uranium recovered with the phytic acid process can be reused for nuclear energy. And for countries like the UK that lack natural uranium reserves, E. Coli could be one of the keys to a low-carbon future.

Science Daily via Treehugger

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6 Comments

  1. lynn February 18, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    This seems to be in the “I dreamed that ……” catagory. If it were true, why didn’t I read about it in a Science mag? I would love it – especially if it could help with that 10,000 year problem we keep on creating. Wishint it were so…

  2. American Patriot October 5, 2009 at 2:59 am

    The scientist need to find bacteria that will absorb the nanothermite in the lungs of people at the 9/11 attack site. They are dying from thermite being in their bodies.

    You should be able to find a bacteria that will only digest nanothermite.

    Don’t waste time thinking about it, just get busy.

  3. Kamar October 5, 2009 at 12:56 am

    wow cool, what about to clean up tchernobyl??????

    lets do it!

  4. Liquid Fusion October 5, 2009 at 12:21 am

    It’s good to know that when you must empty your bowels, that you’re helping reduce nucear waste at the same time!!!!

  5. davidwayneosedach September 24, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    I’ve read about usinmg viruses to producee electricity. But this is even better! This can be used world-wide.

  6. cyberclark September 23, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Oh how I hope this is true.!

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