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In Situ Phytoremediation of Uranium Contaminated Soils

  • Abdul G. KhanEmail author
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Part of the Concepts and Strategies in Plant Sciences book series (CSPS)

Abstract

Human demand for energy, like traditional sources such as oil, coal and petrol, is gradually diminishing due to gradual consumption, world faces energy crisis. Development and use of nuclear energy from uranium (235U) is one of a few options available to meet this shortage, but mining and processing of uranium mineral resources is causing uranium pollution of our air, waters and soils. Depleted uranium (DU), the by-product of 235U extraction, is the major source of DU contamination. Uranium has long shelf-life, and it remains for a long period of time in the environment and causes long-term potential hazard to human health and environment. Therefore, there is an urgent need to address this problem. Various remediation technologies like physical (coagulation, precipitation, evaporation, extraction and membrane separation technologies) and chemical (chemical extraction and leaching, hydrolysis, etc.) methods to remediate U-contaminated soils and waters are being developed and tested, but they are all very costly and only applicable to small contaminated sites. In this review, various in situ biological remediation technologies such as bioremediation and phytoremediation are discussed with reference to their benefits and limitation. Application of synergistic relationships of uranium-contaminated soils and bioenergy production by using biocrops like vetiver grass (Vetiveria zizanioides (L.) Nash) and industrial hemp plants (Cannabis sativa L.) are discussed in relation to in situ phytoremediation. Potential of various chemical (NPK fertilizers, chelating agents, etc.) and biological (inoculating plants with PGPR, symbiotic bacteria and AM fungi) applications for greater uptake of nutrients including uranium to increase plant growth and produce greater bioenergy biomass are suggested to take into consideration when implementing in situ phytoremediation strategy. The potential of mycorrhizo-remediation of U-contaminated mine sites by the mycorrhizal roots of bioenergy crop plants like vetiver grass and industrial hemp crops was highlighted. It is anticipated that in situ mycorrhizoremediation strategy applied to uranium-contaminated mine sites (rhizoengineering) will prove to be the most promising uranium contaminant stabilization and bioenergy biomass production on marginal lands.

Keywords

Arbuscular mycorrhizas Bioenergy biomass production Bioremediation Industrial hemp Mines Mycorrhizoremediation Phytoremediation Rhizoengineering Uranium Vetiver grass 

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© Crown 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Western SydneySydneyAustralia

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