MadSci Network: Botany

Re: How does biomining for heavy metals work?

Date: Wed May 23 22:22:53 2001
Posted By: David Hershey, Faculty, Botany, NA
Area of science: Botany
ID: 990562940.Bt

Phytomining is an extremely promising technology that is near commercial use. 
It uses plants that naturally accumulate one or more heavy metals at 100 times 
or more the normal level. They are called hyperaccumulator plants, and there 
are more than 400 species currently known. Most hyperaccumulator plants are 
native to soils naturally high in heavy metals. There are hyperaccumulors of 
arsenic, cadmium, chromium, cobalt, copper, lead, manganese, nickel, selenium, 
thallium, uranium, and zinc. The technology is environmentally friendly, unlike 
most normal mining methods. The plants would be grown on soils or old mine 
spoils. Then the shoots are harvested and the heavy metal extracted. 

In addition to phytomining, there are already field tests using 
hyperaccumulators to clean up soils or waters contaminated with heavy metals, 
termed bioremediation. Hyperaccumulators can also be used to revegetate areas 
around old mines where normal species will not grow.


Hyperaccumulators and their uses

Phytoremediation of heavy metals using plant cells and organs

The Green Clean: The emerging field of phytoremediation takes root

Poison-sucking plant cleans soil


Hyperaccumulator Plant References

Current Queue | Current Queue for Botany | Botany archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Botany.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-2001. All rights reserved.