Environmental Technology Blog

Environmental Technology

The Environmental Technology Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about refuse and recycling, pollution control solutions, hazardous waste and remediation, and environmental sensors. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

Previous in Blog: Could You Get Rich Selling Air?   Next in Blog: Turning Used Chewing Gum into Useable Products
Close
Close
Close

Spinach to the Rescue?

Posted November 23, 2016 1:00 PM by MaggieMc

On October 31st, a group of researchers published a paper with Nature Materials that described how they plan to use spinach—yes, spinach—to detect traces of explosives in groundwater. The plants were engineered to detect nitroaromatic compounds, which are commonly used in explosives, but are also used in chemicals found in dyes, polyurethane foams, herbicides, insecticides, and solvents.

Detection of unrecovered landmines is a constant problem, even though it’s not as commonly considered in countries without landmines buried beneath them. Currently, landmines are detected using hand-held metal detectors (or, if you’re in Mozambique, sometimes with giant rats).

The team of researchers proposes using plants as sensors to identify these landmines without being forced to wander the countryside with a metal detector. The team accomplished this with plant Nanobionics, which introduces “nanoparticles into the plant to give it non-native functions.” You can learn more about exactly how spinach, of all things, can detect these compounds in this video from MIT News.

According to MIT News, these sensors have the potential to do far more than find landmines, they could be made to sense for a wide variety of chemicals, or they could help botanists and agriculturalists learn more about plants, crops, and soil conditions.

It seems like a pretty amazing concept to consider, or maybe, for those who hate the taste of spinach, this is just one more excuse to leave it in the ground.

Reply

Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: About 4000 miles from the center of the earth (+/-100 mi)
Posts: 9143
Good Answers: 1038
#1

Re: Spinach to the Rescue?

11/23/2016 3:04 PM

"Currently, landmines are detected using hand-held metal detectors (or, if you’re in Mozambique, sometimes with giant rats)."

Wow, if you work it right, you could solve two problems at the same time...

Reply
Reply to Blog Entry
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Previous in Blog: Could You Get Rich Selling Air?   Next in Blog: Turning Used Chewing Gum into Useable Products

Advertisement