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Phytomining: Bio-Mining with Plants
The search for plants capable of extracting nickel from soil:
Mike Miller, Materials Engineer

"Everbody's always in favor of saving Hitler's brain, but when you put it in the body of a great white shark, oh, suddenly you've gone too far." -- Professor Farnsworth, Futurama
Nifty! The Biopolity and other bioists in particular would likely go in for plants that mine metals from various locations (the ground, sea water, asteroids) but given how widespread biotech is in OA, likely it's used lots of other places as well to one degree or another.

Extracting fissiles like thorium and uranium from soil could give a boost to fission power generation in locations where that is useful; extracting deuterium from seawater (and from ice) would probably be much more commonplace, even on icy worlds far out in deep space.

Removing toxic elements and compounds from perchlorates would be a priority on newly-colonised worlds, and in many cases these elements and compounds could be concentrated by bio-accumulation until they reach economic levels. Extracted rare-earths would be particularly useful. And if not, the plants concerned might concentrate the extracted metals and use them for their own structural integrity.
This could be a part of landfill mining, and removing pollutants from oceans.
(10-01-2020, 12:06 PM)sandcastles Wrote: This could be a part of landfill mining, and removing pollutants from oceans.

Also true.

Given that we imagine pretty advanced biotech even fairly early in the setting and that Earth is (at first blush) cleaned up and repaired in many ways, we might have a situation in which various plants, natural, gengineered, or a mix of both, are used to clean up land fills and some types of toxic waste.

Whether this is done primarily as an environmental restoration project, a mining enterprise, or a mix would largely be an editorial decision, I suppose.

It wouldn't necessarily be very fast, but that might matter less from an environmental cleanup perspective.

Just some thoughts,

Oddly enough this isn't the first time I heard of phytomining. I think it was about 20 years ago and was something about rapeseed & a superfund site.
Evidence separates truth from fiction.

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