UW biologists’ way to dispose of carcinogenic railroad sleepers
Wooden railroad sleepers are impregnated with creosote, a toxic and carcinogenic substance. A University of Warsaw biologist has developed an inexpensive method for disposing of wood so impregnated. Bacteria are helpful in breaking down the poisonous impregnant.
Wooden railroad sleepers, electric poles or bridges are impregnated with creosote produced from coal tar. It is creosote that gives impregnated wood its characteristic smell and dark brown color.
Creosote is a mixture of many compounds that are harmful to humansoin chemical. According to the Regulation of the European Parliament and the EU Council, it has been recognized as a carcinogenorczy. The law prohibits the recovery and disposal of wasteoThe bacteria treat compounds that are part of creosote as a source of. Under no circumstances should used railroad sleepers be given to anyone for further use.
Regulations do not allow companies to transfer this type of materialoin private users. Meanwhile, unaware consumers sometimes buy used railroad sleepers and use them m.In. as gardening materials.
Waste impregnated with creosote, instead of going to the market wtorny, should be disposed of. Disposal of such materialsow is, however, a difficult task. When creosote-impregnated wood comes into direct contact with soil or water, or is burned, toxic substances are released into the environment.
The method developed at Warsaw University by Dr. hab. Magdalena Popowska, prof. from the UW’s Department of Biology, enables the safe reuse of creosote-impregnated wood. Thus, for example. wood chips or sawdust from such formerly impregnated wood can already be safely used in horticulture, for the production of pellets or briquettesow.
Biotechnology related to creosote disposal is currently being developed at the university’s spoA spin-off company (BACTrem), whichorej the researcher is the founder and president of the.
A method developed at the UW allows creosote to be extracted cheaply and efficiently from primersoin railroad. In the first phase, harmful substances are washed out of the wood, and then the creosote fraction in liquid form is purified with the help of microorganismsow administered in a special biopreparation. It includes bacteria, whichoThey feed on the creosote, metabolizing it. The bacteria treat the compounds that make up creosote as a source ofocarbon and energy. After the process, the wood is free of contaminants, meeting current safety standards, allowing it to be reused as raw material.
– The leaching of creosote from wood takes place in specially prepared containers and takes several hours. It takes 15 to 30 days for bacteria to purify creosote fluid. The cleaned wood is then dried. During the entire process, no harmful substances enter the environment. After all the stages have been completedoin zaroboth the wood and the liquid are tested to meet relevant standards – mowi dr hab. Magdalena Popowska.
The biotechnology developed is environmentally friendly. The bacterial preparation is safe and hygienically certified. The microorganisms used are not genetically modified, nor are they pathogenic – It is obtained from environments contaminated with creosote.
Other technologies for the disposal of creosote-treated wood are available on the market. However, they are expensive, and the disposal process itself is complicated. With large quantities of contaminated raw material, solving the problem would require the involvement of huge sums of money, exceeding the capabilities of the subjectow obliged to dispose of creosote.
Starting in 2025, 9,000. kilometeroin railroad tracks. This means the disposal of more than 15 million wooden sleepersoin railroads, or 975 million tons of hazardous wasteow.
The project’s commercialization is supported by the University Technology Transfer Center (UOTT) of the UW. – The stage of laboratory research on the new technology has been completed. The process has been scaled up to what is now known as the “Innono Inno”. quarter-scale, thanks to additional funding from UOTT. We are currently looking for an investor whoory would decide to set up an industrial plant using our know-how – mowi director of UOTTRobert Dwiliński.
As he assures, the technology does not require the construction of new machinery or the building of specialized process lines. According to him, the production of the bacterial preparation itself is also cheap, and the contaminated wood does not need to be transported, as the treatment and bioremediation process can be carried out at the storage site. – All this makes the cost of implementing the new technology low, in porownaniu to alternative competitive technologies – Dwilinski adds.
Creosote has been used since 1839 to preserve productoin wood intended for use in open space. The substance is produced from coal tar. The durability of wood protected with this impregnation is on average 30 years. Someore sourcesodels report that it is even a period of 100 years.
Creosote consists of hundreds of roof the ingredientsow, including hydrocarbonoin aromatics, such as naphthalene, anthracene, phenanthrene, chrysene, and the componentoin acidic and alkaline – phenols, cresols, methyl derivatives of pyrines and other. A factor in carcinogensorczym classified as category I is one of its majoroingredientoin benzo(a)pyrene and for this reason zaroneither creosote nor wood impregnated with it may be placed on the market accessible to consumersow. The lethal dose of benzo(a)pyrene to the bodyoin the solid state is only 710 mg/kg.