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Technology Profile

Researchers at the University of California (UC), Riverside and UC Los Angeles are exploring how nanomaterials powered by solar electricity can accelerate the activity of bacteria used to clean up halogenated contaminants such as chlorinated solvents, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), and 1,4-dioxane in groundwater. Because the breakdown of these contaminants is normally slow with potentially harmful byproducts created in the process, the scientists are using advanced analytical and molecular tools to understand how solar electricity can stimulate bacteria to allow them to degrade halogenated contaminants more quickly and more deeply in groundwater. They also hope to tune their system to allow bacteria to degrade halogenated compounds and other co-contaminants at the same time.

graphic demonstrating nautral bioremediation being enhanced by solar energy to be faster, "deeper", and more air-tolerant
The researchers are transforming natural bioremediation by integrating advances in materials science and solar energy to improve the performance of microbes to clean up contaminants. Their approach is faster, degrades contaminants more completely, and is effective in the presence of air. (Image courtesy of UC Riverside)

Technology Solar-powered material-microbe interface to accelerate the activity of bacteria used to clean up contaminants.
Innovation Incorporating new advances in nanomaterials science to optimize bioremediation leveraging solar power.
Contaminants and Media Halogenated contaminants, 1,4-dioxane
Principal Investigators Yujie Men, Chong Liu 
Institutions University of California, Riverside; University of California, Los Angeles
Grant Numbers R01ES032668