Tumblin' Tumbleweeds Lend Hand In Depleted Uranium Roundup
An early study indicates that the humble tumbleweed (the Russian thistle) may be able to help humans round up depleted uranium (DU) from contaminated soil - both at weapon testing grounds and on battlefields.
(Tumbleweeds lined up and ready)
In the study, various plants were tested for their ability to pick up DU from soil in semi-arid climates. Some plants that did well (like Indian mustard) also required a significant effort for cultivation. Tumbleweeds do not require cultivation, use very little water, and spread themselves by detaching from roots and then tumbling along in the wind to a new location.
The goals of the study:
In looking for plants to help, researchers are following in the footsteps of old-fashioned uranium prospectors, who would use Geiger counters on junipers to find uranium deposits.
- to characterize the site
- to determine DU mobility in arid environments
- to compare the DU bio-accumulation potential of selected non-native and native arid plant species
- to determine if the plantís biomass and ability to uptake DU make it a viable economic remediation technique
- to test a variety of soil and plant amendments and to determine their impact on the plantís ability to accumulate DU
Depleted uranium is uranium which contains reduced quantities of the fissile isotope U-235 and the radioactive isotope U-234. Depleted uranium is not completely free of radioactive isotopes; it must still be handled carefully. As a heavy metal (like lead) it is toxic; studies suggest that inhaling dust from DU-based weapons can be harmful.
The military makes use of DU because its high density (70% more dense than lead) makes it an excellent choice for an anti-tank weapon. It is also pyrophoric; the heat build-up caused by penetration of metal armor causes the depleted uranium to disintegrate and combust when it reaches air (in the interior of an enemy tank or other vehicle). The Department of Energy has an inventory of almost half a million tons of depleted uranium as a result of efforts to create enriched uranium (depleted uranium is a waste product).
In his 1983 novel Against Infinity, science fiction author Gregory Benford wrote about bioengineered organisms called "scooters" that were designed to roam the surface of Ganymede (one of the moons of Jupiter) and find ammonia-based compounds and digest them into usable oxygen compounds.
For more info, take a look at Phytoremediation of Depleted Uranium in an Arid environment and
Tumbleweeds Good For Uranium Clean-Up
Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 11/10/2004)
Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.
| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |
you like to contribute a story tip?
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add
Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )
Related News Stories -
Mushroom Coffin Returns You To Nature, Naturally
'She touched the leaf. She was wanted.' - Philip K Dick, 1954.
Mechanical Milking Of Microalgae For Fuel Production
'They call 'em culture tanks. They have bugs -- germs -- growing in them.' - Hal Clement, 1950.
Fetal Lamb Rests In Artificial Womb
'... stewing warm on their cushion of peritoneum and gorged with blood-surrogate and hormones, the foetuses grew and grew...' - Aldous Huxley, 1932.
Bring Back Extinct Animals! Sort of.
'The worldwide network of genetic arks had a surfeit of pachyderms...' - David Brin, 1990
Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!)
is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for
the Invention Category that interests
you, the Glossary, the Invention
Timeline, or see what's New.
Salto Jumping Robot Now Sticks Landing!
'Lucky touched the leap knob and the hopper's leg retracted.'
Gyroscopic Median-Straddling Mass Transit Vehicles
'It was among these leviathans that the little gyrocar was daring to thrust its puny self...'
Bigrating Laser Beam-Riding Light Sail Is Self-Correcting
'That sail will be twenty thousand miles at the wide part.'
ISS Astronauts Test Estee Lauder 'Advanced Night Repair' Skin Serum
'Out in the New Moon, just ask for what you want...'
LG Wing Twisting Smartphone Might Be Fun
'A polycarbon screen unfurled...'
Mushroom Coffin Returns You To Nature, Naturally
'She touched the leaf. She was wanted.'
Will ATT Offer Ad-Subsidized Cellphone Service
'For long-distance calls the ratio of commercial to conversation was as high as 10 to 1...'
Gyro-X Self-Balancing Two-Wheeler Car
'Indeed, the gyrocar was a sight to make a man look twice.'
Beat Covid-19 With AIR By MicroClimate - At Last I Get My PAPR
More than just a bubble.
Mi TV LUX Transparent Edition OLED TV
The Look of Things To Come.
Metalenses Now Reconfigurable With Liquid Crystal
'Hufhuf oil held in static tension...'
'Alexa For Residential' A Landlord's Dream (Tenant's Nightmare?)
'...unseen mechanical entities... that are in our very midst. One of them following each of us.'
Gather Ye Moonrocks While Ye May
'The law of filing on newly discovered asteroids was definite.'
InMotion V11 Electric Unicycle Gets Air (Video)
'A tumblebug does not give a man dignity...'
Rid Thyself Of Ads On The Newsbox
'Can't we scramble that commercial?'
A.I. Jesus Proclaims Machine Gospel
'... he crossed the waiting room to the Padre booth; inside he put a dime into the slot and dialed at random.'
More SF in the News Stories
More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories