Bacteria always amaze us with the unique roles they can play, which no big factory can do, so are there any new roles with copper?
Copper is one of the most popular metals in our daily lives because it is used to conduct heat and electricity in electrical wires and plumbing parts, and has many uses in many applications related to energy. Therefore, any method that increases its productivity is extremely useful in many aspects of our daily lives.
Challenges related to copper extraction
Extraction of copper from mines has been associated with a number of hazards, including contact with its hazardous materials as well as large-scale extraction. This is one of the challenges facing copper mining operations.
The world’s copper reserves are estimated at about one billion tons, with an annual mining activity of about 12.5 million metric tons, which means that the world’s remaining reserves will last for 65 years.
Another challenge we face during mining and mining is the exposure to sulfur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide during copper smelting.
However, bacteria may have a solution to alleviate these challenges associated with copper extraction and extraction. It was shown recently A study On April 23, Science Advance reported that bacteria living in copper mines were converting toxic copper into permanent and mono atomic copper.
وحسب Press release In collaboration with researchers at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, who commented on a study published by the University of Houston in the United States – to find out how copper-resistant bacteria – found in a copper mine in Brazil – converts copper sulfate ions (CuSO4 ions) into monomolecules with unparalleled monomolecules.
The presence of bacteria in copper mines is not surprising. Scientists already know this, but “they are unaware of the role these bacteria play in those mines,” says Francisco Hernandez, a professor at the University’s Faculty of Mechanical Engineering Technology. Houston involved in the study.
Therefore, the scientists decided to place these bacillus bacteria under the lens of an electron microscope to find out their exact role, to find that they can separate and extract single copper atoms.
It is very difficult to separate a single copper atom by chemical methods, which requires a mixture of harsh chemicals, but as Hernandez added, the bacteria were able to separate those single atoms “naturally”.
A unique discovery
Scientists have been able to determine the nature of a single copper atom based on the results given by electron microscopy. They also discovered a bacterial system that helped convert copper sulphate to copper.
Deborah Rodriguez, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Houston and a senior researcher in the study, said: “This discovery is a scientific breakthrough. If artificially produced a process would require intensive effort and great expense, and with this amount of refinement it would not do. “
“Bacteria use unique biological pathways and proteins that secrete divalent copper (Cu2 +) and turn it into zero-value monoatomic copper (Cu0),” Rodriguez added.
Rodriguez explains why bacteria carry out this process: “By converting ionic copper to monoatomic copper, the bacteria themselves aim to create a less toxic environment, but it benefits us.”
These results provide a safer and more efficient way to fabricate single atoms of an element instead of traditional methods such as chemical vapor deposition, sputtering, and femtosecond laser ablation.
“In the next step, we will collect copper samples made by these bacterial cells and then use them for some practical applications,” Rodriguez concludes.