Microalgal biofilms to mitigate acid mine discharges

Steve Skill, Department of Biosciences, has won a nationwide competition to find a sustainable solution for acid mine pollution

Steve Skill - acid mine pollutionSince the Bronze Age, the mobilization of heavy metals by man through extraction from ores has led to the release of these elements into the environment, and since they are non-biodegradable, they accumulate in the environment and subsequently contaminate the food chain. Certain heavy metals such as cadmium, are carcinogenic, mutagenic, teratogenic and endocrine disruptors while others cause neurological and behavioural changes especially in children. There are 1311 abandoned metal mines across Wales that produce toxic heavy containing acid mine discharges (AMD) and cause nine percent of Welsh rivers fail to meet the European Water Framework Directive objectives.

Steve Skill in actionIn 2014, Natural Resources Wales (NRW) and Innovate UK launched a nationwide competition to find a sustainable solution to mitigate AMD pollution, which Steve Skill was successful in winning.  Steve has developed a scalable, low cost, passive and sustainable technology solution for acid mine pollution that employs microbial consortia as microalgal biofilms and the system can be deployed in remote mine or spoil heap locations, without requiring civil engineering constructions or utility services.

Radio 4 and BBC World Service, Inside Science presenter Marnie Chesterton, reports from the remote Frongoch Mine near Ysbyty Ystwyth on the progress of the demonstration project. Steve’s co-investigator Mabrouk Zanain was also interviewed for the BBC Arabic Service.

BBC World Service Science in Action reporter Marnie Chesterton interviewed Steve Skill about a sustainable solution to mitigate acid mine pollution using microalgal biofilms (approx. 16 minutes 45 seconds into the programme):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03xr3gg

http://open.live.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/5/redir/version/2.0/mediaset/audio-nondrm-download-low/proto/http/vpid/p03yjjqs.mp3 (19:00 in)