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