Day 205: Mining minerals from seawater

Damien Palin collaborates with bacteria. He opens this TED talk with stop-motion footage of bacteria metabolising, which attracts minerals from their local environment. But what does this mean to us?
Lack of clean drinking water is one of the world’s most pervasive problems. Removing salts from seawater by reverse osmosis is crucial for countries without access to clean water. But it leaves a concentrated salt or brine solution behind, which can be detrimental to local ecology if pumped back into the sea. It’s also a cost prohibitive process for many countries of the world.
Palin studies bacteria, as he imagines a future where bacteria can help to accumulate, precipitate and sediment minerals out of desalination brine. His videos show the beginning of an industry in a test tube, and this short TED talk makes perfect sense.


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