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Idea Profile

Microbial Mop-up

Researchers at the University of Dundee have developed a novel, highly efficient, environmentally-friendly method of decontaminating surfaces of radionuclides or metals, representing a significant advance for the nuclear and other industries.
The wide use of concrete in the nuclear industry has resulted in severe contamination of concrete surfaces with radionuclides. A substantial proportion of decommissioning costs are spent decontaminating concrete, currently using physical and chemical methods of removal. Chemical methods include “surface cleaning” and “surface removal” involving both aggressive physical and chemical processes. These methods, while effective and inexpensive, are inherently hazardous and can generate significant volumes of secondary waste. Physical “surface cleaning” techniques include brushing, wiping, flushing, vacuuming and the use of strippable coatings. Although these physical techniques can be used for virtually all regular surfaces, they are destructive, noisy, time consuming, generate airborne particulates or wastewater, and have higher exposure and other risks to workers. Opportunities exist for novel methods which combine efficiency with a more environmentally and user-friendly decontamination solution.
This biotechnology confers several important advantages over current methods:

• The extracted radioactive (or metal) contaminants are “fixed” within the solid matrix and thus contained in a reduced volume.

• The matrix immobilizes the fungi and is in a safe format for workers to apply.

• The matrix can be designed to be easy to attach/detach affording a high level of control of the decontamination process.

• User-friendly – use of the technology does not require scientific expertise.

• Noise-free.

• Cost effective.

• Flexible - bespoke matrices can be developed for various decontamination challenges.
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