U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Electrodes Tap into Microbial Activity During Uranium Bioremediation
Published: January 19, 2010
Posted: February 10, 2010

Microbes in subsurface environments can be used to remediate uranium-contaminated sites but scientists have not been able to monitor the progress of bioremediation without physically taking samples. Now, researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Ruhr University, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the University of Massachusetts have adapted microbial fuel cell techniques to the detection of microbial activity in the environment. Electrodes placed into the subsurface during uranium bioremediation provide a signal that correlates with acetate availability (a microbial energy source) demonstrating a new method to monitor microbial activity in the environment. The results suggest that electrical signals could be used to monitor the progress of bioremediation processes and provide real-time data for use in predictive models of microbial metabolism during uranium bioremediation. These techniques are not specific to uranium bioremediation and in fact could be used to detect microbial activity in a host of different environmental settings thereby allowing researchers to directly examine rates of microbial processes in environment. The results are reported in the latest addition of Environmental Science and Technology (2010) 44:47-54.

Contact: Robert T. Anderson, SC 23.1, (301) 903-5549
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Subsurface Biogeochemical Research
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities

Division: SC-23.1 Climate and Environmental Sciences Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)