DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DAVID PARKER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Decontamination of toxic waste using bacteria. A technician loading a sample of toxic waste into a biomagnetic separator for treatment. The waste used contains uranyl ions, like those found in effluents from nuclear facilities. In the sepataror the waste is mixed with glycerol 3- phosphate, and bacteria added (Candida utilis or Bacillus subtilis). The bacteria exude an enzyme which liberates phosphate ions. These react with the uranyl ions to form a precipitate which deposits on the bacteria. Uranyl ions are highly magnetic, so the bacteria with their uranyl coat may be recovered by magnetic separation, thus decontaminating the waste.
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