U of M team using biotech to cut fracking impacts

Associated Press Modified: September 18, 2012 at 4:17 am •  Published: September 18, 2012
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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A University of Minnesota team has won a $600,000 federal grant to develop biotechnology for purifying wastewater from hydraulic fracturing.

The practice, commonly known as fracking, uses hydraulic pressure to release natural gas and oil, but it carries possible environmental and public health risks.

The three scientists are using naturally-occurring bacteria to break down contaminants in the wastewater, a technology they originally developed to remove agricultural pesticides from soil and water. Their goal is to make the water suitable for re-use in hydraulic fracturing and significantly reduce the industry's water consumption.

The team will work with two companies on technologies for encapsulating the microbes.

If the project is successful, the team will be eligible for additional National Science Foundation funding.