Can microbes exploit rare earth elements in space? The international space station did an experiment

Microbial mining has become a reality on earth. Can human beings send these little things to outer space under difficult conditions to complete rare earth mining and other tasks? Last year, the European Space Agency (ESA) carried out a biorock experiment on the international space station. According to a paper published on November 10, under microgravity conditions, some microorganisms can actually leach rare earth elements from basalt in the reactor, and the leaching rate of cerium and neodymium reaches about 70%. < p > < p > < p > < p > “bio rock” experimental device schematic rare earth is the general name of lanthanide, scandium and yttrium in the chemical periodic table, known as “industrial monosodium glutamate”. Most of them have unique magnetic or catalytic properties and are widely used in electronic information, petrochemical, metallurgy, machinery, energy and other industries. The application of rare earth in high and new military technologies, such as missiles, intelligent weapons, navigators, jet engines and so on, is particularly attracting people’s attention. In addition to replenishing the earth’s resources, it is also of technical significance to mine alien rare earth elements. It involves an in-depth understanding of the interactions between microbes and rocks in space, and is of great help in the human vision of a “livable alien planet.”. Among the possible mining methods, “bioleaching” is a promising direction. It was first used in contaminated soil remediation. Its principle is to separate and extract heavy metals from the soil by the direct action of some microorganisms or the indirect effects of their metabolites, such as oxidation, reduction, complexation, adsorption or dissolution. In recent years, microbial mining has also been developed by bioleaching method, that is, ore is washed with mixed bacterial solution. Under the inorganic or organic acids released by microorganisms, minerals dissolve and interact with microorganisms. Thus, valuable elements such as copper, gold and rare earth can be extracted from the leaching solution. At present, about 15% of copper and 5% of gold in the United States are mined by microorganisms. Compared with chemical reagents, microbial mining has the advantages of low cost and less toxic substances. But if you move into space, gravity can be a variable. We do not know whether bacteria and other prokaryotes can directly sense gravity, but the changes of thermal convection and sedimentation conditions in microgravity environment do affect the mixing of nutrients and wastes, thus affecting the growth and metabolism of microorganisms. For this purpose, the European Space Agency (ESA) has tested the potential of bioleaching under microgravity, simulated Mars gravity and earth gravity. Three kinds of bacteria, Sphingomonas sp., Bacillus subtilis and cuprobacter aeruginosa, were investigated. Basalt is the object of collection, because most of the material on the surface of the moon and Mars is similar to it. < / P > < p > the team measured the amount of 14 different rare earth elements that the bacteria leached from basalt. They found that Sphingomonas sp. could leach rare earth elements from basalt under three gravity conditions, and the leaching rates were not different. The leaching rate of the most abundant rare earth elements in basalt is the highest, for example, the leaching rate of cerium and neodymium is about 70%. The above results indicate that although the biomining capacity of microorganisms is biologically specific, it can exist in space and gravity conditions similar to Mars. The study also improves our understanding of the interactions between microbes and minerals in space, involving many of the technologies needed for alien migration, the paper said. For example, how to make soil out of poor rock? How to maintain the survival of microorganisms in the surface soil of outer space? How to use microorganisms to produce fuel cells and building materials? On space mining, NASA is planning to go to the asteroid 16psyche between Mars and Jupiter in 2022. What’s special about the asteroid is that astronomers estimate it’s almost entirely made of metal, including nearly 272 billion tons of iron and nickel. Continue Reading865 optimization is different? These mobile phones should teach you a lesson!