Some shoots from the last visit at the University of Hasselt which is studying the proprieties of specific plants for cleaning up pollution from soil, and transform the plant waste into sustainable byproducts.
Using the significance of a landscape in transformation, the former Limburgs industrial region is an ideal context for turning pollution into a resource. In relation to the production part of Phytoremediation, how can we make use of the plant waste? The project intention is to investigates potential uses of the vegetation as a resource finding smaller scale, cost-effective approaches to the problem without forcing the economical sector to drastic changes ( the so called “Gentle Reconversion”).
The output of this research will be tested in a variety of uses for create a new ecologic productions like:
I believe in a new model of transportation and I am now looking to petrol stations as a case study because they are areas with specific pollution (organic compounds) and accessible public-private space.
Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno are fundamentally two guys who like dress up as spokesmen of big multinationals in order to give fake interviews to media like BBC World. In this video - showed during “Mind the System, Find the Gap” @ Z33 - the “The Yes Men” uses humour, truth and criticism to bring media attention to the crimes DOW Chemicals has committed. Though neither the company ever took responsibility for the catastrophe, the actor mentions that the company has finally decided to cleaning up the contaminated soil.
In few hours the information had become world news. DOW lost 2 billion dollars in the Stock Market and had to respond to its polluting practices in the city of Bhopal (India). A question arises: Why they don’t get arrested for that? Please, have a look to the famous story of MCLiebel, a former postman & a gardener that have taken McDonald’s to the Court for its bad activities (rainforest destruction, food poisoning and falsely advertises). It looks like both of the cases are in the category David VS Goliath… so, this method might successfully be used to arises serious challenges to the eyes of public opinion.
Different viewpoints enrich the quality of assessment and visioning. Thanks to frequenting the Centre for Environmental Sciences of the University of Hasselt I could understand the relation behind scientists and designer, and how this often requires adaptation in both parties. Passed the first step, I could benefit from the support of their knowladge which allowed me to follow their experiments. The centre has been at top of phytoremediation research since 1980, when new ideas for solve the infamous case of soil pollution in Lommel (BE) started to pop-up.
Above you see Director Jaco Vangronsveld showing me a book about his researches. I hope to engage a solid collaboration with research centres in order to aquire a more complete understanding of the micro-organism needed for apply the synergy between plants and bacteria.
Last Monday I had the possibility to assist for the first time to an experimental plantation of phytoremediation in Limburg. It was finally exiting to see in practice how to apply the methodology! Since more then 20 years the residential area has been contaminated by an oil spill coming from a tank to heat a row-house. Unfortunately the family that owned the soil could not afford the cost for a traditional remediation that could cost them more then 300 thousands Euros. A soil pollution consultant has offered to re-vegetate their garde with some willows. The yellow tubes are for inoculate the root system with particular bacteria coming from the soil. In this way the plantation could grow without suffering from the contamination. The remediaton took place very quickly in only an afternoon resulting in a cost of less then a couple thousands Euro. (but this case was funded by a governmental project). In the future the site will be monitored and hopefully in few years the subsoil will be cleaned up. I book a place for this moment!
I have been for an interview with Prof. Jaco Vangronsveld, director of the Centre for Environmental Sciences at the Hasselt University. He has been involved in several phytoremediation projects since 1990 especially in The Campine area (BE) were historical pollution reached an extensive area of more then 700 square Km. After having focused in metals remediation (with significant results obtained with the use of poplar tree and tobacco) he focused his research centre on organic contaminants remediation using symbiosis wuth bacteria. Accordingly, Vangronsveld is studying how a tree can merge forces together with microbial’s powerful proprieties.
Accordingly, some Carbon-based bacteria have a great ability to transform organic contaminants (like petrol and gasoline) in innocuous CO 2 + water. This process is much faster that previus phytoremediation methods, it already takes place in a rapid period from 12 to 48 hours. Plant roots are inoculated with bacteria for improving their healing effects in contaminated soil. This is the example of a plant that is enhanced with bacteria tubes that reach the rooting system (see the model above). If the transpiration of organic pollutants to the atmosphere is limited, bacteria-plant symbiosis would be able to define new standards in phytoremediation methods. In conclusion we can say that the most promising frontiers for remediate organic compounds can be defined in one word: symbiosis.