Enzymatic uranium reduction by Desulfovibrio desulfuricans readily removed uranium from solution in a batch system or when D. desulfuricans was separated from the bulk of the uranium-containing water by a semipermeable membrane. Uranium reduction continued at concentrations as high as 24 mM. Of a variety of potentially inhibiting anions and metals evaluated, only high concentrations of copper inhibited uranium reduction. Freeze-dried cells, stored aerobically, reduced uranium as fast as fresh cells. D. desulfuricans reduced uranium in pH 4 and pH 7.4 mine drainage waters and in uraniumcontaining groundwaters from a contaminated Department of Energy site. Enzymatic uranium reduction has several potential advantages over other bioprocessing techniques for uranium removal, the most important of which are as follows: the ability to precipitate uranium that is in the form of a uranyl carbonate complex; high capacity for uranium removal per cell; the formation of a compact, relatively pure, uranium precipitate.
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Bioremediation of uranium contamination with enzymatic uranium reduction