Scientists have discovered a microbe in Yellowstone National Park that could be used to clean up wastewater, providing an economical and natural way for paper and clothes manufacturers to treat water before releasing it back into rivers and streams.
The microbe itself would not be used in the cleanup. Instead, scientists extract a protein from the microbe and add it directly to industrial wastewater. The protein breaks down hydrogen peroxide, which is often used to bleach clothes and paper before they’re dyed or to sterilize paper food packages such as juice boxes.
The Yellowstone protein is impressive. It works 80,000 times longer than what’s currently used to clean up hydrogen peroxide, although the researchers point out that it has only been tested in the laboratory and not on a large-scale. They are in talks with commercial manufacturers about scaling up the process, but it’s unclear when this might happen.
Thomspon, V.S. et al. Purification and characterization of novel thermo-alkali-stable catalase from Thermus brockianus. Biotechnology Progress 19, 1292-1299 (July/August 2003).
via Jamais Cascio