Introduction • Environmental biotechnology is the solving of environmental problems through the application of biotechnology.
Why environmental biotechnology? • It is needed to: • eliminate the hazardous wastes produced by our other technologies. • distinguish between similar species and ensure species are not at risk of extinction. • create alternative energy sources (i.e. Biofuel).
1) Molecular Ecology • Using biological techniques (i.e. DNA fingerprinting) to better understand aspects of nature. • This is done to look at the biodiversity of different populations to ensure they are not at risk of going extinct (cheetahs and polar bears currently). • It can be used to determine if a new species has emerged and also better map the evolutionary development of different families of animals (horses and whales currently).
1) Molecular Ecology Biofuel exaggeration Reading a DNA fingerprint
2) Bioremediation • Bioremediation is the use of bacteria (or fungi) to clean up hazardous environmental wastes. • The bacteria essentially turn the dangerous waste products into less hazardous, easy to dispose of, waste. • Plants are also being tested in some areas to do this job (Sunflowers at Chernobyl removed Cesium and Strontium).
2) Bioremediation • Bioremediation has been used to clean remains from military sties and in the arctic and has been used to clean up after oil spills off of Alaska. • Currently, this science can “engineer” bacteria to break down hazardous waste right at the workplace to avoid transport and storage.
3) Biosensors • A biosensor uses a biological entity (i.e. bacteria) to monitor levels of certain chemicals OR uses chemicals to monitor levels of certain biological entities (i.e. pathogens).
3) Biosensors • Current uses of biosensors include: • Detecting levels of toxins in an ecosystem • Detecting airborne pathogens (i.e. anthrax) • Monitoring blood glucose levels
4) Biofuels • A biofuel is a plant derived fuel that is deemed more environmentally friendly that current fuel sources as they all release less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. • Ethanol from corn is placed in many gasoline varieties in North America. • Biodiesel is fuel made from used cooking oil. • Biogas is made from gases released by compost or a landfill.
4) Biofuels • The current project of many biofuel scientists is aptly nicknamed “A Journey to Forever”, creating a self-sustaining biofuel cell that gives off no greenhouse gas emissions. • Many different bacterial strains can produce lots of hydrogen under anaerobic conditions. • This hydrogen can be used as a fuel source with the only waste product being oxidized hydrogen… water. • This technology has not been perfected yet.