Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Researcher Sees Trees As A Clean, Green Solution

Date:
August 9, 2000
Source:
University Of Missouri-Rolla
Summary:
Here's an idea that will grow on you: using trees and other plants to reduce water and ground pollution -- and reducing overall cleanup costs. That's the goal of environmental engineer Joel Burken, an assistant professor of civil engineering at UMR, who is leading a team of graduate and undergraduate students in this nontraditional research effort.

Here's an idea that will grow on you: using trees and other plants to reduce water and ground pollution -- and reducing overall cleanup costs.

That's the goal of environmental engineer Joel Burken, an assistant professor of civil engineering at UMR, who is leading a team of graduate and undergraduate students in this nontraditional research effort.

"Who would have thought that trees could help purify water?" says Burken.

But that's exactly the goal behind a relatively new idea in environmental engineering. Known as "phytoremediation," the method involves using plants to clean up pollutants.

A green revolution

"I hope that phytoremediation will revolutionize the process of remediating contaminated sites," Burken says. "The effort could replace the current methods now being used to cleanse contaminated soil and groundwater."

Some of those current methods of water purification consists of pumping, heating or even baking the ground to extract the pollutants. "All of those measures, especially pumping, are incredibly expensive," Burken says. "In contrast, phytoremediation uses living plants to reduce contaminated soil, sludges and groundwater in a less expensive way."

Phytoremediation has also been expanded to provide safer methods of cleaning metals, crude oil, and landfill leachates, Burken says. Working in conjunction with the University of Connecticut and Ecolotree Inc., an environmental engineering company, Burken plans to cut costs by using poplar trees to remove the pollutants from water tables that may be used for drinking water. One method involves incorporating genetically enhanced microbes with the planting of the trees. This type of "genetic engineering" gives the microbes the ability to break down naturally, Burken says.

University of Connecticut researchers do the actual genetic engineering part of the process, creating the enhanced microbes. Burken carries on the process by inoculating cuttings from the trees. Burken tests the trees to see the impacts of the genetic engineering. The research has proven to be beneficial, Burken says. "In one case, 1,700 poplar trees were planted on a contaminated U.S. Navy site. The efforts resulted in saving the site about $5 million in the clean-up process."

While "there are still many questions left unanswered about exactly why this process works, it seems to work," says Burken. "But we don't know exactly why. It is just a simple but elegant process that does the job."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Missouri-Rolla. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Missouri-Rolla. "Researcher Sees Trees As A Clean, Green Solution." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 9 August 2000. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000807072046.htm>.
University Of Missouri-Rolla. (2000, August 9). Researcher Sees Trees As A Clean, Green Solution. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000807072046.htm
University Of Missouri-Rolla. "Researcher Sees Trees As A Clean, Green Solution." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2000/08/000807072046.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins