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UGA researcher receives patent for remediation technologies

An Austrian patent for an invention that combines two remediation technologies - phytoextraction (a form of phytoremediation) and in-situ immobilization (a form of chemical sequestration) of heavy metals and radionuclides - has been awarded to Domy Adriano of the University of Georgia's Savannah River Ecology Laboratory (SREL); Judith Unterkoefler, formerly of SREL; and Walter Wenzel of the Universitat fur Bodenkultur in Vienna, Austria. A similar patent in the United States is pending.

This innovation combines removal of contaminants from soil by root uptake and concentrates the contaminants in plant biomass. Conventional phytoextraction requires that plants be harvested, which presents the problem of disposal of the contaminated biomass. Use of chemical sequestration does not require killing the plants so they can continue to extract more contaminants.

"This (process) is accomplished by laying a chemically reactive mat on top of the ground and around each plant, usually a tree or a shrub, which catches any fallen leaves and twigs," said Adriano. "This allows them to rot, releasing the contaminants in a soluble form, but captured and fixed permanently by the reactive mat."

The mats can be engineered to retain the contaminants until the clean-up goal has been reached, and the mats can be collected for safe disposal.

The invention was initially conceived at the Universitat fur Bodenkultur in Vienna, Austria, during Adriano's sabbatical with Wenzel. The work was funded by the city of Vienna.


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Contact: Rosemary Forrest
forrest@srel.edu
803-725-2473
University of Georgia
16-Jun-2003


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