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Zapping Microbes With Electricity Could Cut Chemical Use in Wastewater by 50%

The mining industry requires significant amounts of water, and the water used becomes polluted with toxins including arsenic, mercury and sulfates. Typically, the water is cleaned with microbes which do their job by adding or removing electrons from the soup, but they need to be supplemented with chemical additives. But a new process could change that, feeding microbes with electric charges instead, and cutting the need for chemicals by half, or possibly even more.

Earth Times points us to news from University of Utah, which reports that a team of researchers have found a better, more environmentally friendly way to clean the wastewater from mines.

The process is called electrobiochemical reactor (EBR), through which small doses of an electric charge is applied to microbes to help them more quickly and efficiently remove the toxic pollutants from mining, industrial and agricultural wastewater. The process has shown to improve the microbe activity by two to 10 times, and drastically reduce the cost of processing wastewater. Not only is the use of chemicals reduced by at least half, if not more, but also the contaminants can be collected and recycled.

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