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Nuclear Waste Disposal an Issue? Seek Help from Bacteria and Algae

You would agree, all those the conventional ways of disposing nuclear waste are harmful. They often allow the slow leakage of radioactivity from the heavy metals from where they have been buried (often under the soil). What we would want to tell here is that the best way to clean up nuclear wastes is to use another natural weapon, the biological one.

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Bacteria and algae have been the best scavengers since the springing of life on earth.

Pond algae: Researchers have seen that common freshwater algae,  Closterium Moniliferum, has the capability to differentiate Strontium-90, a potent damaging agent found in nuclear waste, from calcium which is also present in large quantities in such wastes and is very similar to Strontium-90. After some processes, the heavy metals, including Strontium-90, are gathered inside the cells. These biotic cells can hence clear up radioactive metals.

Microbes: Microbes also can clean up nuclear waste and, in the process, generate electricity. Geobacter, a bacterial type that is present in the soil, has appendages, or small mobile parts, outside its cellular body, also known as nanowires. These appendages act as organs for cleaning up nuclear wastes, and as formulators of electricity.

In other words, these nanowires help the bacteria survive and grow in an environment that has been contaminated with heavy metals. Acetate was first added to the source of uranium. Acetate is the diet of Geobacter and thus helped the bacterial colonies to multiply quickly. The uranium was cleared up as expected.

Stinky bacterium: The bacterium, Desulfovibrio Vulgaris, prompts an electron transfer that turns uranium into mineral Uraninite, which would convert the unstable Uranium into a more stable Uranite form. Uranite is heavy and would sink to the bottom of the water source where it had previously been present in the radioactive state. This bacterium can hence be a potent nuclear waste scavenger in the future.

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