Universidad de Alcalá-OTRI

Bioremediation strategy in situ for the precipitation and immobilization of uranium and other toxic elements in contaminated soils.

Posted by Universidad de Alcalá-OTRIResponsive · Patents for licensing · Spain

Summary of the technology

A research group from the Geology Department of the University of Alcalá is developing a technology to study the role of the oxidation-reduction processes of humics in the reduction of uranium and other toxic metals in contaminated soils to determine whether stimulating the activity of humic-reducing and oxidizing microbial communities in contaminated soils can be an effective strategy for the in situ immobilization of uranium and other toxic metals. The group is looking for technical cooperation projects with companies.

New and innovative aspects

The technology proposed in this project constitutes a novel and pioneering approach in the study of soils contaminated with toxic uranium and other metals, and could represent a very effective method for in situ soil bioremediation. Particularly, this project promotes a bioremediation method for contaminated soils using natural organic substances,ganisms mics, and the participation of microbial oxidation-reduction mechanisms driven by indigenous microo like humics, and the participation of microbial oxidation-reduction mechanisms driven by indigenous microorganisms to transform metals to less toxic oxidation states. 

Main advantages of its use

The fundamental benefit of this project is to rely on a novel technique for the remediation of soils and waters contaminated with uranium and other toxic metals, very clean and less expensive than other methods more invasive, with the development of a methodology that includes a complete study of the affected ecosystem affected (geological, biological, chemical and physical parameters) that could be extrapolated to other zones contaminated by industrial, mining and even natural activities.


Uranium is a toxic metal in soils and waters. In spain uranium contamination is of special environmental concern those places where uranium accumulates in the phosphogypsum resulting from the production of phosphoric acid along with other toxic metals like Zn, Cr, V, As, Cd and Cu. A simple strategy for the immobilization of uranium is promoting its reduction. It is well-known that microbial reduction of uranium is the most effective mechanism for the reduction and precipitation of uranium in contaminated sedimentary environments. Some microorganisms are also able to use soil humics as an electron acceptor for the anaerobic oxidation of organic compounds and hydrogen. Once microbially reduced, humics can be abiotically oxidized serving as an electron donor for abiotic reduction of other electron acceptors like uranium and other toxic metals.

To evaluate the role of the oxidation-reduction processes of humics in the reduction of uranium and other toxic metals in contaminated soils, the following fundamental aspects wil be analyze:

  • The mechanisms for abiotic oxidation and microbial oxidation-reduction of humics that participate in the reduction of toxic metals in contaminated soils.
  • The microbial communities responsible for these processes.
  • Soil parameters influence the humics-mediated bioreduction and bioprecipitation.


  • To carry out environmental decontamination and bioremediation processes

Related keywords

  • Environmental Engineering / Technology
  • Remediation of Contaminated Sites
  • Remote sensing technology
  • Soil and Groundwater Pollution
  • Measurement and Detection of Pollution
  • Recycling, Recovery
  • Waste desinfection / detoxification
  • Wastewater Recycling
  • Industrial Water Treatment
  • Pollution and Recycling Related
  • Chemical and solid material recycling
  • Water treatment equipment and waste disposal systems
  • environmental
  • Technology and Environmental Engineering
  • measurement and detection of the contamination
  • remote sensors technology
  • water contamination and treatments

About Universidad de Alcalá-OTRI

Research & Technology Organization from Spain

The Technology Transfer Office at Alcalá University serves as a liaison between the University and its socioeconomic environment in terms of research and innovation. It encorages collaboration between research groups from universities and companies/institutions, with the objective to promote and commercialize research results and scientific capabilities.

Some of the services offered by this office are specified in the following list:

- Promotion of R & D and improvement of the relationships with companies.
- Promote the participation in R & D projects applicants to public calls (regional, national and European).
- Advising, processing and monitoring of patents and other forms of industrial protection.
- Support in the negotiation of contracts and agreements for R&D&i

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