I opened the page late last night to see my most recent nanosilver story and was pleasantly surprised by this title:
The story was kind of fun too. Here it is in a nutshell: “Bioremediation: Silver-tolerant algae could help mop up silver nanoparticle contamination“.
Go read the story and then come back here. As usual, I had a few small pieces of background information that I couldn’t include (too much of a diversion).
One point was that silver is naturally occurring in the environment. I realize now that this is probably a no-brainer — elements are everywhere! Duh! — but I remember the first time I heard Mike Hochella, a geochemist at Virginia Tech, point out that nanosilver is normal thing to find in the environment. I had gotten all wrapped up in human-made nanomaterials, and forgot that nanocarbon, nanosilicon, all these nano-sized particles are out there made from normal processes. Reading some of the papers from Bernd Nowack and his colleagues makes me wonder if we really need to worry, even as I retain some feeling of alarm over putting this stuff out in the environment.
The other main point I had wanted to make is that it turns out that making nanosilver inside a live cell — say, a bacterium, or in algae — is not exactly normal, but it has been patented. For example:
- “Silver Nanoparticles With Specific Surface Area and a Method for Producing Them” (US 08454986 B2 Patent Summary, http://www.patentorg.com/silver-nanoparticles-with-specific-451521)
- “Method for Producing Metal Nanoparticles” (US 08455226 B2 Patent Summary, http://www.patentorg.com/method-for-producing-metal-nanoparticles-449116
Kind of cool. Very weird: nano-bio-factories.