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  • Translator: Timothy Covell Reviewer: Morton Bast

  • I collaborate with bacteria.

  • And I'm about to show you

  • some stop-motion footage that I made recently

  • where you'll see bacteria accumulating minerals

  • from their environment

  • over the period of an hour.

  • So what you're seeing here

  • is the bacteria metabolizing,

  • and as they do so

  • they create an electrical charge.

  • And this attracts metals

  • from their local environment.

  • And these metals accumulate as minerals

  • on the surface of the bacteria.

  • One of the most pervasive problems

  • in the world today for people

  • is inadequate access

  • to clean drinking water.

  • And the desalination process

  • is one where we take out salts.

  • We can use it for drinking and agriculture.

  • Removing the salts from water --

  • particularly seawater --

  • through reverse osmosis

  • is a critical technique

  • for countries who do not have access to clean drinking water

  • around the globe.

  • So seawater reverse osmosis

  • is a membrane-filtration technology.

  • We take the water from the sea

  • and we apply pressure.

  • And this pressure forces the seawater

  • through a membrane.

  • This takes energy,

  • producing clean water.

  • But we're also left with a concentrated salt solution, or brine.

  • But the process is very expensive

  • and it's cost-prohibitive for many countries around the globe.

  • And also, the brine that's produced

  • is oftentimes just pumped back out into the sea.

  • And this is detrimental to the local ecology

  • of the sea area that it's pumped back out into.

  • So I work in Singapore at the moment,

  • and this is a place that's really a leading place

  • for desalination technology.

  • And Singapore proposes by 2060

  • to produce [900] million liters per day

  • of desalinated water.

  • But this will produce an equally massive amount

  • of desalination brine.

  • And this is where my collaboration with bacteria comes into play.

  • So what we're doing at the moment

  • is we're accumulating metals

  • like calcium, potassium and magnesium

  • from out of desalination brine.

  • And this, in terms of magnesium

  • and the amount of water that I just mentioned,

  • equates to a $4.5 billion

  • mining industry for Singapore --

  • a place that doesn't have any natural resources.

  • So I'd like you to image a mining industry

  • in a way that one hasn't existed before;

  • imagine a mining industry

  • that doesn't mean defiling the Earth;

  • imagine bacteria helping us do this

  • by accumulating and precipitating

  • and sedimenting minerals

  • out of desalination brine.

  • And what you can see here

  • is the beginning of an industry in a test tube,

  • a mining industry that is in harmony with nature.

  • Thank you.

  • (Applause)

Translator: Timothy Covell Reviewer: Morton Bast

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B2 US TED desalination brine bacteria mining seawater

【TED】Damian Palin: Mining minerals from seawater (Damian Palin: Mining minerals from seawater)

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    Zenn posted on 2017/06/26
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