By Sarah Barchus
Three University of Minnesota researchers received a $600,000 federal grant to develop technology that reduces pollution by purifying hydro-fracking wastewater, the Pioneer Press reported.
During hydro-fracking, which accounts for roughly one-third of U.S. natural gas production, highly pressurized water is forced underground to release natural gas and oil from the rock. The grant will fund the researchers' project to decontaminate the wastewater by using natural bacteria, the Star Tribune reported.
The bacteria have been used to remove agricultural pesticides from soil and water, the Pioneer Press reported. According to lead researcher Larry Wackett, the bacteria removed nearly all fracking waste within days in the laboratory. However, transitioning the technology from the lab to the large scale of the real world will be challenging, the Star Tribune reported.
Wackett said the University's Biotechnology institute research team will partner with Tundra Companies of White Bear Lake and Luca Technologies of Boulder, Colo. to take the technology to the next level and then to the market, the Star Tribune reported.
If the researchers accomplish their goal, they could significantly reduce the hydro-fracking industry's water consumption by making the residual water safe for reuse, the Pioneer Press reported.