Windsor, ON – 温莎大学的研究人员开发的方法承诺加快把有毒石油开采留下的残渣池变成可持续的湿地。A method developed by researchers at the University of Windsor promises to hasten the turning of toxic tailings ponds left by petroleum mining into sustainable wetlands.
生物学教授领导的研究小组的Chris Weisener和五大湖环境研究所的 Jan Ciborowski 整个夏天都在阿尔伯塔省成功地测试他们的方法。A team led by biology professors Chris Weisener and Jan Ciborowski of the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research spent the summer in Alberta successfully testing their method.
专利过程包括将含有炼油副产物的残油、水、沙和粘土组成的有毒混合物残渣的尾矿池—储存盆地暴露于γ辐射。辐射沉积物降解了有毒化合物并创建一个微生物的食物来源。The patented process involves exposing to gamma radiation the sediment of tailings ponds—storage basins of the leftover toxic mix of residual oil, water, sand and clay that comprise the byproducts of oil refining. Irradiating the sediment breaks down the toxic compounds and creates a food source for microorganisms.
“辐照过程为细菌创建一个具有生物可利用性的碳源被称为降解器，这促进了细菌的繁殖，“Weisener博士说。“换句话说，它创造了大量的现成的食物，像把龙虾肉从其壳体里取出并呈现出来，而不是费力的剥壳。”“The irradiation process is creating a bio-available carbon source for bacteria called degraders, and this gives the bacteria a boost,” said Dr. Weisener. “In other words, it creates an abundance of readily available food, like taking lobster meat out of a shell and presenting that meat, instead of having to go to all the fuss of shelling it.”
Weisener博士说，辐照同时快速降低了毒性，尽管研究人员仍在思考它的速度有多快，他们已经发现它加速修复过程至少50%。Weisener says irradiation reduces toxicity right off the bat, and though the researchers are still playing with how quickly it works, they have found it speeds up the remediation process by at least 50 percent.
Danielle VanMensel，Weisener实验室的一名硕士学生，一直在研究辐照对沉积物微生物群落的影响。Danielle VanMensel, a master’s student in Weisener’s lab, has been investigating the effects of irradiation on the sediment’s microbiological community.
“辐照有效地对材料进行了杀菌，然后重新引入原来的微生物群落，它们开始分解毒素，”她说。“我研究微生物群落在我们单独留下的2个样品以及经辐照的样品中如何转移和变化，我们已经发现这些微生物在使沉积物回到正常状态中可能发挥巨大的作用。”“The irradiation effectively sterilizes the material, then we reintroduce the original microbial community, which starts breaking down the toxins,” she said. “I study how the community shifts and changes in both the samples we left alone, as well as the irradiated samples, and we have found that these microbes may play a huge role in bringing the sediment back to a remediated state.”
博士候选人Thomas Reid和硕士生Chantal Dings-Avery正在调查处于像雨水、阳光、昆虫和植物的自然条件下的经辐照过的材料。Doctoral candidate Thomas Reid and master’s student Chantal Dings-Avery are looking into the irradiated material under natural conditions like rainwater, sunlight, bugs and plants.
“这是一个新的、更快的方法，是一大亮点，因为它需要花费数百万美元才能改造这些地方,”里德说。“这是一个安全的方法,使用照射曝光,用于食品和医药行业。”“This is a new and faster approach that is a big plus because it costs industry millions of dollars to reclaim these sites,” said Reid. “This is a safe method that uses irradiation exposure, the kind used in the food or medical industry.”
团队获得一个独特的机会与环境加拿大飞到Fort McMurray附近的一些无人问津的地方。Reid说，这些地方没有被人类生产触及，能提供对他们正努力重建的可持续发展的湿地的理解。The team got a unique opportunity to fly with Environment Canada into undisturbed sites near Fort McMurray. Reid says these reference sites have not been touched by human production and can give an understanding of the kind of sustainable wetlands they are striving to recreate.
他说，他们正在研究微生物在最基本的层面上如何表现，看看生活在无人区的细菌和矿油沙地的细菌活动是否或如何的不同：“了解这些无人区到底是那些微生物在活动是以前从未做过的工作，这是一个很好的参考点，”他说。He says they are studying how the microbes behave at the most basic level, to see how or if that activity differs between bacteria living in the undisturbed sites compared to those in the mined oil sands sites: “Understanding what microbes are actually doing in these undisturbed sites is something that’s never been done before, it is a great reference point,” he said.
该团队也测试辐照不会创造任何额外的有毒副产品。研究到目前为止还没有发现任何负面影响。The team is also testing that irradiation is not creating any additional toxic byproducts. The research to date has not uncovered any negative ramifications.
Weisener的研究伙伴Ciborowski博士正在研究经过辐照的材料如何影响植物和昆虫。Weisener’s research partner Dr. Ciborowski is studying how the irradiated material affects plants and insects.
“这种方法可能会影响到整个生态系统，因为细菌是前线,“Weisener说。“细菌是初级生产者，所以他们会影响化学环境，这将使得其他生命形式的建立成为可能，这正是是我们的目标。”“This method could potentially affect the whole ecosystem because bacteria are the front line,” says Weisener. “Bacteria are the primary producers, so they will influence the chemical environment, which allows other forms of life to establish, and this was our goal.”