In the steamy waters of Yellowstone National Parks hot springs lives a type of bacterium that could help make industrial bleaching cheaper and more environmentally friendly. Scientists have found Thermus brockianus bacteria produce a hardy enzyme that can be put to work breaking down hydrogen peroxide in industrial wastewater, producing only harmless oxygen and water as byproducts. Most important, the so-called extremozyme endures harsh industrial conditions better than currently available alternatives and lasts thousands of times longer.
R&D Magazine declared the isolation and production of the enzyme -- named the Ultrastable Catalase Enzyme by the Department of Energys Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory researchers who found it -- to be one of the 100 most significant technological achievements of 2004. Chemical engineer Vicki Thompson and biologists William Apel and Kastli Schaller from INEEL will be recognized at the R&D Magazine awards banquet in Chicago on Oct. 14, 2004.
"Its exciting that the R&D 100 chose a project involving extremophiles," Thompson says. "It will help spread the word about the practical applications and environmental benefits that can come from extremophilic research."
Regina Nuzzo | EurekAlert!
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