Hungry bacteria Leptospirillum ferriphilum eat a metal nail in three days.
Chilean scientist Nadac Reales, in her laboratory in the industrial city of Antofagasta, learned how to stimulate bacteria to quickly absorb metals. Microorganisms of the Leptospirillum ferriphilum species trigger oxidative processes and dissolve metals naturally, but they do it very slowly. Experimentally, Reales deduced a simple way – it is necessary to first make the bacteria starve properly.
If in a normal situation Leptospirillum ferriphilum will dissolve a metal nail for about two months, then being hungry they cope with it in just three days. Bacteria have a kind of instinct – in the absence of food for a long time, they switch to the maximum absorption rate of all available material when it appears. Reales wants to use this trick to try to dissolve the huge body of a dump truck.
The scientist has no shortage of materials for experiments, the same bodies, as well as other large parts of mining machines, are scattered in abundance in the Atacama Desert. Traditionally, in Chile, environmental care was put in the last place in this industry, worn-out machinery and production waste were not properly disposed of. There is a huge amount of rusty metal, rock and metal dust in the country, the processing of which will never become profitable. Therefore, the idea of feeding all this to hungry bacteria, thereby purifying nature at least a little, looks very attractive.