A Korea research team has successfully explained that microalgae in rivers, lakes, and in the sea is very effective in eliminating radioactive materials.
The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) announced on Nov. 12 that a research team led by Dr. Lee Seung-yeop from KAERI, Jung Kwang-hwan, professor of the Department of Life Science at Sogang University, and Lee Seung-yop, professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Sogang University, discovered that the amount of dissolved radioactive strontium (Sr) is greatly reduced during the microalgal photosynthetic process.
The research team found that when microalgae like Chlorella Vulgaris photosynthesize, they facilitate the combination of CO₃2- and radioactive Sr2+ in the water to generate a large amount of SrCO3. They also discovered that the radioactivity of Sr decreases by more than 90 percent when turned into a carbonate mineral, thereby proving that microalgae are effective in removing radioactive Sr.
Existing physicochemical absorption and precipitation methods to get rid of radioactive materials cost a large amount of money and cannot purify contaminated water in a sufficient manner. Thus, the new technique using microalgae is expected to make it possible to treat contaminated water in a more affordable and eco-friendly manner.
The research team is planning to step up efforts to develop eco-friendly methods for eliminating radioactive materials in contaminated waters and soil using microalgae and microorganisms.
The research findings were published online in the November issue of Bioresource Technology, a scientific journal published by Elsevier.