- Key concepts
- microbes, bioremediation, Big Mike
the Viridian Bug
- Attention Conservation Notice:
- continues the long-term
Viridian obsession with micro-organisms and their
"Where are the Design Intellectuals?" I dunno, but I'd
guess they're over on Design Observer, complaining
on the Web about our society's lack of granite-
Swell David Pescovitz article on the growing plethora
of teensy, portable power sources: microfuelcells, MEMS
internal combustion engines... something is bound to
tear loose here.
"We are pleased to announce the inaugural issue of
PlaNetwork Journal, a quarterly online publication
for in-depth articles by those engaged in
applying new technology to benefit the public
Elliot Spitzer, ladies and gentlemen; the glory
of the American legal system, to the extent
that it has any left:
"Spitzer and Colleagues to Take On Global Warming?
"Eight state attorneys general will hold four
simultaneous press conferences on Wednesday to unveil
a major lawsuit intended to curb the United States?
contribution to global warming, according to an
announcement today from the office of New York State
Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The states involved
include California, Connecticut, Iowa, New York, New
Jersey, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. New York
City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will also appear at one
of the press conferences, which are scheduled for noon,
Eastern time. No other information about the lawsuit
Tuesday, Jul 20, 2004
KRT photo courtesy University of Massachusetts
"Derek Lovley, a microbiologist at the University
of Massachusetts, discovered Geobacter, a class of
bacteria. (((Thank you 'Dr. Lovely!')))
'Wonderbug' converts waste into power
By Robert S. Boyd
Knight Ridder Newspapers
"WASHINGTON – Geobacter, a class of bacteria, is
tiny and yet so talented that it can turn deadly
uranium waste into harmless muck, generate electricity
from rust and garbage, and even run a toy car.
(((Save us, Geobacter! Save us, and run our
little toy cars!)))
"It's a lot to expect from an invisible little bug
less than a thousandth of an inch long. But the Energy
Department, the Pentagon and the National Science
Foundation are exploring the potential of Geobacter
and related microorganisms to perform useful work.
"'Geobacter gives us a cheap and simple alternative to
a cleaner, safer environment and the generation of
cleaner forms of energy,' said Derek Lovley, the
biologist who discovered the bacteria in 1987 at the
muddy bottom of the Potomac River in Washington.
(((Where better?))) Lovley heads the Geobacter Project,
a team of 50 researchers based at the University of
Massachusetts in Amherst.
Get a job there!
Quick, double his grants!
"So far, 20 species of the Geobacter genus have been
recognized, plus 30 in closely related families.
Scientists have identified the genes of several of
these species and figured out their inner workings.
"The first big job for the clever little microbes is
to help clean up billions of gallons of deadly
radioactive uranium waste left over from the Cold War.
(((Yum!))) This summer is the third year of an Energy
Department test of their abilities at an old uranium
waste field at Rifle, Colo.
"In the test, Geobacter acts like a tiny deliveryman,
(((oh for heaven's sake, get a grip))) shuttling
electrons from atoms in a harmless organic substance,
such as vinegar, to a species of highly radioactive
uranium known as Uranium-6. Compounds containing
Uranium-6 easily dissolve in water, contaminate rivers
and underground aquifers, and sicken or kill fish,
animals and people.
"The addition of two new electrons reduces an atom of
Uranium-6 to a safer version called Uranium-4, a solid
material similar to natural uranium ore. It sinks to
the bottom of the water, where it can be extracted or
left safely in place.
"To improve the bacteria's performance, researchers
drilled holes in uranium-contaminated ground and
poured vinegar down the holes.
"'It's good food for Geobacter – simple and
inexpensive,' said Lovley. In 24 hours, the number
of bacteria doubles. ((("Hey man, my uranium-tainted
groundwater tastes like vinegar!")))
"Lovley called this technique 'simpler, cheaper and
more environmentally friendly than the more commonly
used `muck, suck and truck' operations.' This method,
in which contaminants are laboriously dug or pumped up
and transported elsewhere, would take decades and cost
billions of dollars.
If Geobacter passes its tests, the Energy Department
must decide whether and where to begin large-scale
"Public reaction to widespread use of bacteria, like
other genetic experiments, could be hostile.
(((Bacteria are not 'genetic experiments.'))) But
Lovley contends that Geobacter is harmless. 'They're
already in the environment,' he said. 'They've shown
no pathogenic (disease-causing) traits. They're
everywhere in almost any soil.'"
"Geobacter also can be used to turn toxic petroleum
byproducts, such as benzene, into inoffensive carbon
"Geobacter's ability to make electricity from rust
is generating interest. (((Yes, one would think so!)))
It removes electrons from one type of iron atom,
known as Fe-2, and converts it into another form,
Fe-3, the basis of ordinary rust. The electrons zip
along a wire, from a positive to a negative pole, as
in a miniature battery.
"Lovley's lab has exploited this bit of energy to
light electric bulbs, operate a calculator and power
a toy car. In the future, he predicted, bacteria power
(((bacteria power to the bacteria people, baby)))
could be used in less developed countries to charge
batteries, run radios, televisions or computers, even
light a small hut. (((Why is it that people always
try to pipe this half-baked stuff to 'less-developed
countries'? Appalachia and the South Bronx are 'less
developed,' why don't you try it out there?))) You
might even be able to use it at home to generate
electricity from garbage, he said.
"Although Geobacter generates only tiny amounts of
electricity in the laboratory, it works more
efficiently than the traditional burning of biomass,'
meaning wood, cornstalks, trash and the like.
"Lovley claims his bacteria can recover 80 to 90
percent of the energy potential locked up in iron,
compared with an average of 30 percent of the energy
stored in biomass by traditional means.
"'We're efficient but slow. We're trying to get
efficient but fast,' he joked. (((Run!)))
"The Defense Department also is interested in using
the energy in iron-rich mud at the bottom of the sea
to power submarine detectors and other sensors."
(((The obligatory military app.)))
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O
MUCK, SUCK AND TRUCK
O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O O=c=O