Skip to comments.Algae holds promise for nuclear clean-up - Organism's ability to distinguish strontium from...
Posted on 03/31/2011 6:54:15 PM PDT by neverdem
Organism's ability to distinguish strontium from calcium could help in dealing with nuclear waste.
Common freshwater algae might hold a key to cleaning up after disasters such as Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident, scientists said yesterday at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Anaheim, California.
The algae, called Closterium moniliferum, are members of the desmid order, known to microbiologists for their distinctive shapes, said Minna Krejci, a materials scientist at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. But the crescent-shaped C. moniliferum caught Krejci's eye because of its unusual ability to remove strontium from water, depositing it in crystals that form in subcellular structures known as vacuoles an knack that could include the radioactive isotope strontium-90.
Strontium is very similar in properties and atomic size to calcium, so biological processes can't easily separate the two elements. That makes strontium-90 a particularly dangerous isotope: it can infiltrate milk, bones, bone marrow, blood and other tissues, where the radiation that it emits can eventually cause cancer.
"That's what makes strontium-90 one of the dominant health risks of spent fuel for the first 100 years or so after it leaves the reactor," says Krejci. The radioisotope has a half-life of about 30 years.
Unfortunately, reactor waste and accidental spills can contain up to ten billion times more calcium than strontium, making it very difficult to clean up the strontium without also having to dispose of a mountain of harmless calcium. "We need a highly efficient and selective method of separating it," says Krejci.
Enter C. moniliferum. The organism has no particular interest in strontium: it mostly collects barium. But strontium is midway between calcium and barium in size and properties, so any of it that happens to be around gets crystallized as well. Meanwhile, even though calcium is far more abundant than either...
(Excerpt) Read more at nature.com ...
I remember that movie about the green stuff killing everybody on the plane when I was a kid. That must be what this is.
When’s Jimmy Carter gonna take cleaning lady Garrett Morris (Obama) into the containment vessel and become giants.
Except it will turn into Godzilla.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
Yes, we had any number of atomic blasts set off in the atmosphere in Nevada back then, far more radiation released routinely right here at home than the worst in Japan today.
Funny how it all went away without the help of the media.
You’re welcome. Thanks for the compliment. See comment# 6 if you like similar stuff.
Thanks for the ping.
classic from the old days
It is amazing all of us weren't dead by 1959-1960, ain't it?
Yep. From the Obama Gaffe-o-matic.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.