Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Got Milk? Lactate Helps Clean Polluted Soil

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.


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


I don't like paywalls. You don't like paywalls. Who likes paywalls? Here at CleanTechnica, we implemented a limited paywall for a while, but it always felt wrong — and it was always tough to decide what we should put behind there. In theory, your most exclusive and best content goes behind a paywall. But then fewer people read it! We just don't like paywalls, and so we've decided to ditch ours. Unfortunately, the media business is still a tough, cut-throat business with tiny margins. It's a never-ending Olympic challenge to stay above water or even perhaps — gasp — grow. So ...
If you like what we do and want to support us, please chip in a bit monthly via PayPal or Patreon to help our team do what we do! Thank you!
Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


You May Also Like

Clean Power

With more scrapping and more direct reduction using lower carbon technologies such as Midrex' DRI and HYBRIT every decade, and the likely creation of those...

Clean Transport

A new type of autonomous electric train is on track to electrify the US freight rail network and push diesel trucks off the highways,...

Clean Power

Already 2.4 times as expensive as very, very expensive Hinkley. First of a kind, so very likely to double or more in price. Very...

Clean Power

Steel, like concrete, is such an integral part of our world that we rarely notice it. From wherever you are reading this, I guarantee...

Copyright © 2023 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.