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In-Situ Production of Microbial Pigments for Metal and Actinide Immobilization

Unique in-situ method shown to dramatically reduce the mobility of contaminants in the soil without need for excavation

Savannah River National Laboratory

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The stimulation of melanin production by subsurface bacteria offers a means to accelerate the immobilization rates of metal and radionuclide contaminants in the subsurface, even at low contaminant concentrations.
The stimulation of melanin production by subsurface bacteria offers a means to accelerate the immobilization rates of metal and radionuclide contaminants in the subsurface, even at low contaminant concentrations.

Control Pyomelanin<br />Pyomelanin production in soils results in dark pigmentation.&nbsp; The humic-type properties of pyomelanin results in its sorption to soil and its chelation to soluble metals.&nbsp; This allows pyomelanin to immobilize metals in the subsurface for extended time periods.&nbsp; The electrochemical properties of pyomelanin also allow many bacteria to use it to reduce and immobilize soluble and toxic metals.
Control Pyomelanin
Pyomelanin production in soils results in dark pigmentation.  The humic-type properties of pyomelanin results in its sorption to soil and its chelation to soluble metals.  This allows pyomelanin to immobilize metals in the subsurface for extended time periods.  The electrochemical properties of pyomelanin also allow many bacteria to use it to reduce and immobilize soluble and toxic metals.

Technology Marketing Summary

Scientists at the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) have developed a unique in-situ method of immobilizing metal and radionuclide contaminants in soil.  The In-Situ Production of Microbial Pigments for Metal and Actinide Immobilization has been shown to dramatically reduce the mobility of contaminants in the soil over the the long term without the need for excavation.

DescriptionThe consequences of soil contamination include potential health risks (both to humans and animals), alteration or loss of ecosystems, decreased agricultural productivity, tainted water supplies, and general economic harm.  Historically the most common methods of treating contamination have been containment and removal.  While excavation allows for rapid cleanup and complete removal of contaminants, it cannot provide a complete solution for this ever-increasing problem.  Excavation simply transfers the contaminants to another locale where they must still be monitored.  Additional methods such as steam vaporization, aeration, and vacuum methods have all been shown effective, but they also create risks of air pollution, in effect transferring the contaminants from the soil to the air allowing their dispersal on a wider scale.  Hence bioremediation has quickly become the preferred method due to environmental and aesthetical factors.  Specifically, the goal of in-situ methods is to reduce the presence of toxic elements or alternately to reduce their mobility and bioavailability.Benefits

Benefits are:

  • rapid results
  • long term sequestration
  • reduced costs
  • eliminates need for excavation
  • minimal environmental disruption
  • applicable for most locations
Applications and Industries

The In-situ Production of Microbial Pigments for Metal and Actinide Immobilization should be useful for applications such as:

  • mine reclamation
  • landfill management and operations
  • nuclear sites
  • military bases
  • testing sites
  • combat zones
  • radioactive waste
  • nuclear medicine
  • Brownfield and superfund sites
  • pharmaceuticals
  • phytoremediation

Evidence indicates this method can provide extremely rapid results without the extensive regulatory concerns and without the high cost associated with alternative methods.

Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
SRNL-L5210-2011-00149DevelopmentAvailable07/20/201107/20/2011

Contact SRNL About This Technology

To: Dale Haas, Commercialization Manager<dale.haas@srnl.doe.gov>