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Subsurface Biogeochemistry

Develop Biological Solutions for Intractable Environmental Problems

DOE has intractable contamination challenges at diverse sites around the country, making accurate prediction of contaminant behavior critical in determining the need for restoration and in suggesting stabilization or restoration strategies (see A Legacy of Hazardous Waste).

Understanding the complex interactions of microbes with contaminants and the subsurface environment— a Genomic Science goal—will allow such predictions to be based on fundamental biological, geochemical, and hydrological properties of specific environments.

Subsurface Biogeochemistry: Goals and Impacts

  • Understand and incorporate the effects of biological processes into computer models describing the fate and transport of contaminants in the environment. This knowledge could result in savings in the billions of dollars by supporting decisions to take advantage of natural attenuation alternatives, use subsurface biogeochemistry for previously intractable problems, or improve the efficiency of conventional technologies.
  • Develop new or improved subsurface biogeochemical strategies and technologies to save potentially billions of dollars over traditional treatments. This may offer solutions in previously intractable cases (i.e., where there was no solution at any price).
  • Develop new suites of biosensors and performance assessment and monitoring techniques to track progress of environmental cleanup strategies and optimize operation of current cleanup techniques.

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Text adapted from Genomics:GTL Roadmap: Systems Biology for Energy and Environment, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, August 2005. DOE/SC-0090.

Related DOE BER Report

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Complex Systems Science for Subsurface Fate and Transport [03/10]


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