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July 19, 2010

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It is always fascinating to learn how the microbial world;in spite of the real moratl dangers some species may pose to other lifeforms;that something so beyond our everyday concerns and many times dis-regarded as mundane or ugly is actually the vital support system that has enabled life to evolve and persist on this planet and probably elsewhere in the universe.

As a fuel source(algae)and in other ways microbial species may turn out to be the integral components of a sustainable society. From my understanding of ecology, there is nothing truly irrelevant or "inferior" in nature and the smallest part of it can have enormous consequences for the whole system. It is sad that our species(some of us at least)has only recently realized these vital interconnections as we increasingly exterminate or absuse and misuse other species and the earth's support systems at our own peril.

Last time I looked Ammonia was a valuable industrial feedstock. The Ammonia production might pay for the entire process, if not at least for the raw materials.

Approximately 83% (as of 2004) of ammonia is used as fertilizers either as its salts or as solutions. Consuming more than 1% of all man-made power, the production of ammonia is a significant component of the world energy budget. - more of this at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonia#Uses

[A clarification of the previous comment]

Last time I looked Ammonia was a valuable industrial feedstock. The generated ammonia, liberated no doubt from the urea, could be used to directly produce more urea on site, to feed back in to the process.

Approximately 83% (as of 2004) of ammonia is used as fertilizers either as its salts or as solutions. Consuming more than 1% of all man-made power, the production of ammonia is a significant component of the world energy budget. - more of this at Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ammonia#Uses

That's something I certainly didn't know, particularly the scale involved. This is clearly potentially very interesting: I wonder if there's a possibility of your passing this on to Dosier?

Thanks for the comment!

I am curious what effect the contamination had on the process in the Delft research. And what happened to the contamination once solidified in the sand brick?

Maggie - I'm honestly not sure of the answers to your questions. Henk Jonkers at Delft is best-known for his work on healing of concrete by bacteria (see my post from last year, http://throughthesandglass.typepad.com/through_the_sandglass/2009/05/more-adventures-of-bacillus-pasteurii---mending-concrete.html, and http://civil.engr.siu.edu/cheval/CEE210/Lecture/Introduction%20Material/Jonkers%20et%20al%202010%20Ecol%20Eng.pdf.)

It would seem that he is also working on bacterial clean-up of contaminated materials, sand and soils, and that this is the origin of his comment (only cited as an e-mail communication) on the bricks project. I would assume that the nitrate remains in the brick and the ammonia is given off as a gas.

Sorry I can't help more!

Michael

Another concern.
A major source of calcium is calcium carbonate, which comes from
organisms that have sequestered C02 by way of carbonic acid formation (sea shells and a lot of microorganisms). An obvious way to get CaCl2 would be 2HCl+ CaC03= CaCl2 + H2O + CO2. Unfortunately this would release a lot of CO2 a known green house gas.
However, a lot of CaCl2 may already be made at the bottom of fracking wells which have
been boosted by injecting HCL to promote the above reaction and the CO2 contributes to
cracking pressures.

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