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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Feb 2019

    Default Biosorption and ocean biomining

    So biosorption is the thing where living organisms take in material from the surroundings and keep it inside their bodies. The most famous one is the bioaccumulation of toxic heavy metals like mercury in the bodies of fish, but it applies to all organisms. Like say, bacteria and microbes and algae. There is currently a new method of mining involving organisms and their ability to absorb heavy metals from the surroundings at extremely low concentrations and high specificity, in contrast with more conventional technologies which require filters, ion exchange, or chemical precipitation. Far more efficient, far less capital (just keep it sterile and accessible to the ions), and far less environmental footprint. Currently used to clean up toxic oil spills and heavy metal poisoning.

    So what do you think of biomining using microbes in the ocean, grabbing things like rare earth metals and gold?

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    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Eldan's Avatar

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    Default Re: Biosorption and ocean biomining

    Gold would be very hard, I'd think. It's fairly chemically inert, and life runs on chemistry. I've never heard of a Gold chelator either.
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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Biosorption and ocean biomining

    I'm not familiar with this process so the question is how you then extract those metals from bacteria and in fact how you collect the bacteria who was scattered around the ocean ?
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    Eldan's Avatar

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    Default Re: Biosorption and ocean biomining

    Probably by putting them in tanks, and then letting sea water in through filters.
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    Orc in the Playground
     
    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Biosorption and ocean biomining

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    So what do you think of biomining using microbes in the ocean, grabbing things like rare earth metals and gold?
    With the proper testing and quality control, just fine.
    I would actually prefer to start off by clearing pollutants, microbeads, etc., so we could build up a body of experience before we start focusing on profits.
    Would be a pity if we rushed it, made a mistake somewhere, and accidentally caused the extinction of clams.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    gomipile's Avatar

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    Default Re: Biosorption and ocean biomining

    There are some time-tested methods that are adjacent to this idea, if not fully similar.

    For example, the production of sodium carbonate from seaweed. Small-scale commercial production of iodine was also done by extraction from seaweed sometime in the 1800s, I think.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harnel View Post
    where is the atropal? and does it have a listed LA?

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Biosorption and ocean biomining

    Quote Originally Posted by Misereor View Post
    I would actually prefer to start off by clearing pollutants, microbeads, etc., so we could build up a body of experience before we start focusing on profits.
    Research is ongoing into this possibility, but remains in fairly early stages. Bioremediation of this kind is actually a more likely use of commercial scale bacteria-based operations in the oceans than biomining. Gold, rare earths, and other valuable materials found in seawater are present at very low concentrations. Gold, for example, appears to be present at around 11 parts per trillion in seawater, meaning that, at current price levels you'd need to filter all the gold out of 1000 tons of seawater to acquire 1 cent worth of gold. Even if you could find a location where gold was 1000x more concentrated in the water column it still wouldn't be worth it.

    It may be possible to blend remediation and for profit mining at contaminated locations with extremely high values for certain elements like mine waste, coal ash pools, and similar locations, but the ocean itself is just too big and dispersed.
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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Biosorption and ocean biomining

    Quote Originally Posted by asda fasda View Post
    I'm not familiar with this process so the question is how you then extract those metals from bacteria and in fact how you collect the bacteria who was scattered around the ocean ?
    Mostly by doing this:

    https://www.labiotech.eu/in-depth/bi...able-microbes/

    But with halophiles capable of surviving in seawater and being kept inside there for much longer.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Biosorption and ocean biomining

    Quote Originally Posted by Accelerator View Post
    Mostly by doing this:

    https://www.labiotech.eu/in-depth/bi...able-microbes/

    But with halophiles capable of surviving in seawater and being kept inside there for much longer.
    The example given in the article is a case of using bacterial extraction of target materials in a specialized recycling process. That's very different from using something like raw seawater. In particular, by carefully grinding up waste with a high concentration of the target commodities you can not only achieve idea sizes for absorption by bacteria, but also the resulting slurry will have concentrations that may well be millions of times greater than found in nature.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Biosorption and ocean biomining

    Quote Originally Posted by Mechalich View Post
    The example given in the article is a case of using bacterial extraction of target materials in a specialized recycling process. That's very different from using something like raw seawater. In particular, by carefully grinding up waste with a high concentration of the target commodities you can not only achieve idea sizes for absorption by bacteria, but also the resulting slurry will have concentrations that may well be millions of times greater than found in nature.
    Yes. This definitely needs some improvements. Maybe by dumping the self replicating bacteria and making sure that only pores allow in seawater and nothing else, and maybe leaving them somewhere for a month. I mean, this is pretty easy to scale up, compared to most other methods of mining sea water.

    edit: Also, there's other things to do. Like maybe making a biofilm to make the entire process more efficient, or simply focusing on the brine created by desalination, obtaining various different types of metals instead of just a few. And maybe focusing on things like lithium which are at least ten times more abundant.
    Last edited by Accelerator; 2021-06-11 at 11:46 PM.

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    Halfling in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Biosorption and ocean biomining

    As I see it, using bacteria for sea mining just change problem from finding rare earth/Gold in the vast sea to, finding bacteria with rare eart/Gold in the vast sea. I dont see how those bacteria helps in finding the minerals. Unless they are somehow train to find the Gold and then go to a given location were you can filtr them out : )
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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Biosorption and ocean biomining

    Quote Originally Posted by asda fasda View Post
    As I see it, using bacteria for sea mining just change problem from finding rare earth/Gold in the vast sea to, finding bacteria with rare eart/Gold in the vast sea. I dont see how those bacteria helps in finding the minerals. Unless they are somehow train to find the Gold and then go to a given location were you can filtr them out : )
    Yes. That actually works.

  13. - Top - End - #13
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Biosorption and ocean biomining

    If you're going to turn marine life into money, I think you'd be better off researching how to efficiently extract oil from algae. I think it was algae...
    I mean oils like Coconut oil and whatnot, as opposed to crude oil.

    Anyways, it the amount of oil you can hypothetically extract per hectare of algae grown to be basically off the charts; if you can figure out how to drive it higher or make the process more efficient, it's an amazing goldmine. Especially once you consider how much land is used on palm oil.

    (If you need energy, go work on how to recycle solar panels or how to handle polysilicates. If you need rare earth metals, uhhh rewrite reality a bit.)
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  14. - Top - End - #14
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Eldan's Avatar

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    Default Re: Biosorption and ocean biomining

    That's been going on for a while already, actually. Algae oil is a thing, the efficiency is just not quite there yet. But algae fars are coming.
    "In dark times, should the stars also go out?"

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