Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

CleanTechnica

Green Jobs

"Perfume Grass" Could Solve Problem of Antibiotics in Water Supply

Researchers at Michigan Tech use vetiver grass to remove antibiotics from waterResearchers at Michigan Technological University are on to a simple, low cost solution to the complicated problem of keeping antibiotics out of water supplies.  In a study of vetiver grass grown in antibiotic-laden water, they found that 95.5% of the drugs were removed from the water and taken into the plant tissue.

[social_buttons]

Vetiver grass is sturdy, spiky grass native to India that is well known for its use in erosion control.  Vetiver grass is also used in perfumes and in handicrafts for local economic development projects.  In a somewhat ironic twist given its aromatic properties, vetiver grass is also an up-and-comer in the growing field of phytoremediation, in which plants and wetlands are used to remove contaminants from wastewater and stormwater.

Antibiotics and Drinking Water

Antibiotics are part of a growing problem with pharmaceuticals in drinking water, both for human and animal consumption as well as crop irrigation.  The buildup of antibiotics in the environment could encourage drug-resistant strains of bacteria to develop.  Wastewater that passes through a treatment plant can still contain antibiotics, because conventional treatment methods do not break down excreted antibiotics.

Vetiver and Antibiotics

In the Michigan Tech experiment, researchers grew vetiver grass under controlled conditions in a greenhouse, using a hydroponic system.  Over a twelve-week period they exposed the grass to different concentrations of two antibiotics commonly used in the dairy industry, tetracycline and monensin.  The results: the plants took up all of the tetracycline and all but .5% of the monensin.  The researchers also noted that the plants seemed to enjoy the antibiotic bath and grew significantly faster than those in a control group.  The next step is to figure out what to do with the antibiotics after they take up residence in the plant tissue.

The Future of Phytoremediation

Phytoremediation is one of those sustainability threefers we love so much.  The basic concept is to use plants, often in constructed wetlands, to suck pollutants out of water.  The plants provide a low cost, energy efficient way to tackle pollution, they form a wildlife habitat or potential recreation area, and they could also be harvested for other uses — as a source of non-food crops for biofuels, for example.  But wait, there’s more.  Phytoremediation also fits right into the U.S. EPA’s ambitious plan to create more green jobs by reclaiming brownfields for sustainable energy projects.  Though a non-native species, vetiver is easily controlled and is not considered invasive, so don’t be surprised to see a big place for it in the sustainability toolkit of the future.

Image: Vetiver grass by treesftf on flickr.com.

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.

 
 
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. 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+.

Comments

#1 most loved electric vehicle, solar energy, and battery news & analysis site in the world.

 

Support our work today!

Advertisement

Power CleanTechnica: $3/Month

Tesla News Solar News EV News Data Reports

Advertisement

EV Sales Charts, Graphs, & Stats

Advertisement

Our Electric Car Driver Report

30 Electric Car Benefits

Tesla Model 3 Video

Renewable Energy 101 In Depth

solar power facts

Tesla News

EV Reviews

Home Efficiency

You May Also Like

Clean Power

A gas-and-electric utility dreams of a decarbonized future for the US with an assist from green hydrogen and long duration energy storage.

Buildings

Q&A with LA100 Study Lead Jaquelin Cochran For decades, power system planning has optimized costs and efficiency over the experiences of some communities, meaning...

Climate Change

The threat of a catastrophic failure unleashing a 20-foot wall of industrial wastewater over nearby homes and businesses in Piney Point, Florida, illustrates the danger...

Market Research

NREL Analysts Advance Understanding of Options, Opportunities To Repair, Reuse, or Recycle Solar Photovoltaic System Materials

Copyright © 2021 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.