H.S. student needs help with project!

sutherlandmv sutherlandmv at alpha.hendrix.edu.
Wed Jan 25 11:10:33 EST 1995

In article <3frrji$6mn at Owl.nstn.ca>
nstn2301 at fox.nstn.ca (Steve Cook) writes:

> Hi! I'm a High school student desperately searching for a project for
>  the science fair. I have an idea, but I need some info. I have heard of
>  bacteria that grow in the presence of sulfer dioxide in volcanic vents 
> in the ocean. I want to reproduce the living conditions and grow the
>  bacteria to see if it will filter the SO2. If it does, it could be
>  used to filter the polluted air from factories.
> 1. What the bacteria is called.
> 2. If there are any other organisms that live on SO2.
> 3. If there is a simple device for measuring SO2.
> Sarah

I'm not an expert in this field but I'll tell you what little I know. 
The sulfur reducing bacteria found on the ocean floor are living in
extremely hot water (above boiling ) and very high pressures (which
keeps the water from boiling).  I expect that it would be very
difficult to recreate these conditions outside of a specially
constructed laboratory.  There are other sulfur reduces around (e.g.,
growing in the mud pools in Yellowstone National Park), but these
organisms require some very special growth conditions as well.  Also,
the H2S these organisms produce as waste product is not too pleasant to
have around either.  Some bacteria will reduce sulfur for metabolic
purposes, such as for the synthesis of the amino acid methionine, but
I'm not sure if they would remove enough sulfates to do much good.  An
interesting idea,though, if you can find the right organism and
environmental conditions.

Mark Sutherland
Hendrix College
Conway, AR 72032
Sutherlandmv at alpha.hendrix.edu

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