Earth Sciences Division (ESD) Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

Ecology Department Core Capability - Environmental Bioremediation and Sustainability

Bioremediation and natural attenuation have been rapidly growing areas of scientific study over the past decade. The acceptance of natural attenuation as a solution for cleaning up contaminated sites, and DOE’s recognition that they will have long-term stewardship concerns to address at the most contaminated sites, has greatly increased the urgency for research related to microbial ecology, biogeochemistry, biochemistry, and molecular detection techniques. This type of research is truly enabling for natural attenuation, since characterization, transport-and-fate prediction, and verification monitoring require a strong scientific basis. Natural attenuation is viewed as the best solution for cleaning up many waste sites and will save billions of dollars in cleanup costs. Scientists and engineers in the Ecology Department of The Earth Sciences Division at LBNL are recognized leaders in the field of bioremediation and natural attenuation. The Center for Environmental Biotechnology provides the primary facilities used by the Ecology Department, including state-of-the-art equipment for microbiology and environmental engineering. Ecology Department investigators have extensive experience in both water treatment and aquifer bioremediation. In addition to basic research, Ecology Department investigators have been involved in various aspects of more than 100 field demonstrations and deployments, and have five patents in this area that are licensed to more than 30 companies. The types of contaminants in which Ecology Department investigators have expertise include chlorinated solvents, petroleum hydrocarbons (including monoaromatic and polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons), methyl tert-butyl ether (MTBE), high explosives (especially TNT and RDX), nitrate, plutonium, neptunium, chromium, and uranium. The Bioremediation and Natural Attenuation area has both basic research and field application foci for the Ecology Department. The basic research foci are metabolism and physiology (including the genetics and biochemistry underlying pollutant metabolism), biotransformation kinetics, and modeling of biogeochemical processes. Field-application foci are in situ monitoring techniques (including molecular, mass spectrometric, and biogeochemical approaches), co-metabolic techniques, and modeling of attenuation and environmental fate.

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