CleanTechnica is the #1 cleantech-focused
website
 in the world.


CO2 Emissions The engineering firm CDM has found that potassium lactate can help boost the natural cleaning power of bacteria in bioremediation projects.

Published on December 17th, 2009 | by Tina Casey

2

Got Milk? Lactate Helps Clean Polluted Soil

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

December 17th, 2009 by
 
The engineering firm CDM has found that potassium lactate can help boost the natural cleaning power of bacteria in bioremediation projects.The engineering firm CDM has come up with a more sustainable way to neutralize highly polluted soil.  Instead of digging it up and trucking it to landfills, CDM is using a bioremediation process that relies on the cleaning power of bacteria that grow naturally in groundwater on the site, helped along with a boost from potassium lactate.

[social_buttons]

Potassium lactate is a cousin of lactic acid or “milk acid,” so called because it is a fermented product of milk sugar (lactose).  Lactic acid is produced in muscles and can be used as energy by muscle cells.   By adding potassium lactate to the bacteria’s diet, CDM found that bioremediation can work quickly and effectively on soil that is heavily contaminated with the solvent methylene chloride and other volatile organic compounds.

The Shrinking Carbon Footprint of Green Remediation

The U.S. EPA has adopted bioremediation, among other “green remediation” techniques, as a lower-carbon alternative to the old dig-and-dump method of site clean-up.  In green remediation, the soil remains on site and the toxic chemicals are broken down by natural processes involving bacteria or pollution-sucking plants such as cattails or even sugar beets.  In contrast, dig-and-dump simply shifts contaminants from one place to another, involving significant carbon emissions related to excavating, transporting, and landfilling or incinerating tons of soil.

Lactate, Bacteria, and Bioremediation

CDM is carrying out the bioremediation process on a nine-acre site in Florida owned by Rockwell Automation.  Before Rockwell purchased the site, a previous operation had contaminated it with chlorinated solvents used to manufacture circuit boards.  CDM recommended bioremediation using the bacteria Dehaloccoides spp., and potassium lactate was added to the groundwater to make the bacteria thrive more vigorously.  The bacteria “breathe” with the solvent, breaking it down into harmless substances.  To speed things along, CDM installed a system of recirculating wells and a treatment plant.  The operation yielded an overall 90% reduction in contamination across the site within just the first six months.  That included the total remediation of one particular area that had the highest concentration of methylene chloride, a carcinogenic solvent that affects the heart, central nervous system and liver.

Greener Green Remediation

CDM’s recirculating system was designed to be energy efficient, and the U.S. EPA is pushing for ways to make on-site remediation even greener.  One way to do that is by making pumps, fans, and other equipment run on solar energy and other renewable sources.

Image: Milk by Marcin Chylinski on flickr.com.

h/t: waterworld.com.

Keep up to date with all the hottest cleantech news by subscribing to our (free) cleantech newsletter, or keep an eye on sector-specific news by getting our (also free) solar energy newsletter, electric vehicle newsletter, or wind energy newsletter.

Print Friendly

Share on Google+Share on RedditShare on StumbleUponTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on FacebookPin on PinterestDigg thisShare on TumblrBuffer this pageEmail this to someone

Tags: , , , ,


About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • Wayne Wilke

    I would like to add an interesting aside to your article. There is a company in Kansas (JRW Bioremediation) which has received considerable recognition and US patent coverage on the use of lactic salts (potassium & sodium) in reductive dechlorination bioremediation. I believe that this is the technology successfully used by CDM. JRW has recently introduced an enhanced “second generation” lactate with added nutrients and metabolites which significantly speed the dechlorination process.

    Following on this theme of using natural products in bioremediation, JRW Bioremediation has also developed and patented a low cost biopolymer complex for bioremediation that is derived from shell fish industry waste material.

  • Wayne Wilke

    I would like to add an interesting aside to your article. There is a company in Kansas (JRW Bioremediation) which has received considerable recognition and US patent coverage on the use of lactic salts (potassium & sodium) in reductive dechlorination bioremediation. I believe that this is the technology successfully used by CDM. JRW has recently introduced an enhanced “second generation” lactate with added nutrients and metabolites which significantly speed the dechlorination process.

    Following on this theme of using natural products in bioremediation, JRW Bioremediation has also developed and patented a low cost biopolymer complex for bioremediation that is derived from shell fish industry waste material.

Back to Top ↑