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Keywords :- As part of my MSc research dissertation I plan to investigate issues within the general field of phytoremediation.

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From: Bram Miller
Date: 4 Apr 1997
Subject: I need information about commercial phytoremediation in the UK





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Dear Sir/Madam

I am a student on the Environmental Masters MSc at the University of Nottingham.

I have to undertake a library based project over the next few months, a research dissertation over the summer. I would very much like to investigate issues within the general field of phytoremediation.

I am finding it difficult to find any information about commercial phytoremediation in the UK. Does any take place?

If so is there any research that I could do for you? I have about 11 weeks over the summer, and would work for free. If there isn't, why not? Perhaps this needs to be examined.

I would be most grateful for any information, or suggestions for a project, dissertation.

Respond to this Query / Request


1st response






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Dear Bram,

Today I received my copy of Environment Business Magazine (Feb/Mar 1998), and on page 41 was the following article......

'Crops to provide profitable remediation

WRc has received 50 % funding for a ECU 1.5 million project from the EEC (DGXII) to develop a method for remediating land contaminated with heavy metals using biomass fuel crops."

The article states that they are going to use short rotation forestry with Willow and Eucalyptus trees, as well as Miscanthus and Phalaris grasses to take up Heavy Metals from the soil. The crops will then be burnt to make electricity, and the ash used as fertiliser

The person in charge is Drusilla Riddell-Black at WRc (tel no 01491 571 531)

I spoke with her and she explained that the role of WRc is to coordinate the various partners who are:-

  • 2 in Germany
  • 1 in Sweden
  • 1 in Austria
  • 1 in Spain
  • Glasgow University Environmental Chemistry Department

I told her about your interest, and she said that they had just got funding through from the EEC, and that they had already got a PhD student (who was being paid), but that there was no harm in you talking to her.

Although they would not be able to pay you, they might find some part of the project that you could get involved in.


Dr Hackenbush


2nd response



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Dear collegues,

    There are two interesting books recently published about the item:

  1. - Phytoremediation of soil and water contaminants. Edited in 1997 by The American Chemical Society.
  2. - Plants that hyperaccumulate metals. Edited by CAB Int in 1998.

Dra. Amparo Cortés Lucas
U. Soil Science
Universitat de Barcelona


3rd response



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Dear Bram,

Today I downloaded my copy of Environment Business Magazine Joblink (New Jobs updated 15th May 1998)and found that ....

This job has just been advertised in the New Scientist (issue for the week of 16th May - posted on "Joblink" on the Environment Business Magazine website)

    Plant Soil Researcher - phytoremediation
    IACR, Rothamsted £ 16-22k

    Work on EU project on the accumulation of heavy metals by plants and development of phytoremediation technologies. Applicant to have PhD in plant soil relations.

    Application form from:- Personnel Dept Harpenden Hertfordshire AL5 2JQ

Dr Hackenbush


4th response



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Dear Bram,

Monday's Financial Times (8th June 1998) had an article (written by Gabriele Marcotti) about why Phytoremediation was a good thing, which basically said :-

  1. Remediation costs for treating contaminated ground are either expensive (Engineering solutions cost $1-3 million per acre) or environmentally harsh (Chemical agents can sterilise soil)

  2. Genetic engineers are trying to grow plants that will absorb Heavy Metals which can then be "harvested". The aim is to have a plant (such as a Cabbage) with a high biomass (large and sturdy) that will grow in contaminated ground, absorb lots of metal and store it in its shoots. Thus it can be harvested and then recycled to extract the metal.

  3. Rich Meagher, a Molecular Biologist at the University of Georgia, is working with "Arabidosis Thaliana" (related to the cabbage) which absorbs Mercury and can be harvested every two months.

  4. Peter Goldsbrough, a Professor of Genetics at Purdue University Indiana, is looking at Cadmium + Mercury absorbtion and partitioning and studying the detoxifying effect of naturally occurring phytochelatin and metallothionin.

  5. Other people investigating phytoremediation include DuPont (in the USA) and British Nuclear Fuels (in the UK)


Dr Hackenbush

P.S. If you are offered some really cheap Spanish Cabbages from near Aznacollar, unless you are a Metallica fan just say No !


5th response



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Dear Micky,

We have just published a market report entitled The 1998 U.S. Market for Phytoremediation.

We estimate the U.S. market to be between $16.5-$29.5 million in 1998, rising to $55-103 million by 2000, and reaching $214-370 million by 2005.

In terms of market segments the current ranking is

  1. Removal of organic contaminants from groundwater
  2. Remediation of landfill leachate
  3. Remediation of metals from soils
  4. Remediation of organic compounds from soil
  5. Treatment of organic contaminants in wastewater

The report (which is over 140 pages in length, with 36 tables and profiles of some 20 phytoremediation organisations) includes the following:-

  • Summary of phytoremediation technologies
  • Discussion of the dynamics of the industry
  • Summaries of completed and ongoing projects
  • Assessment of the market sectors available
  • Estimates of current and future market sectors
  • The situation for phytoremediation in Europe.
  • Contact details for key phytoremediation companies
  • Glossary of terms.

The cost of the report is $395, with a discounted price of $195 for individuals in academic, government, or other non-profit institutions.

Best regards,

David Glass
D. Glass Associates, Inc

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