If anyone thinks that rocks need millions of years to form, then experiments carried out by Murdoch University (Perth, Western Australia) researchers would surely overturn that idea.
That’s because the researchers have been able, with the help of added microbes, to turn sand into stone rapidly.1
The researchers found that the bacterium Sporosarcina pasteurii2 can produce a cementing agent (dubbed “biocement”) that binds sand particles together.3
Starting with soft sand, and applying the bacterial treatment, “we found that it turns harder each time”, said Dr Ralf Cord-Ruwisch. “At the very end, it turned into something resembling marble more than sandstone.”
From soft sand to marble-hard rock, quickly!
“The biggest block we have made so far was in a shipping container,” said Dr Cord-Ruwisch, “just to prove that it can not only work in the laboratory.”1
The results of the research have excited many people who can see that such ‘biocement technology’ will be a great boon to construction and mining industries—not just to people wanting “to take their sandcastle home from the beach in the form of a solid rock sculpture”.
A Dutch company sent sand samples from Holland for testing. Dr Cord-Ruwisch explained that the Netherlands has a keen interest in solidifying the dikes that prevent the sea from flooding that country’s vast areas of reclaimed low-lying land….
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