Fellows class

TED2012

About Damian

Bio

I am an Irish research engineer who has long been fascinated by the process of biomineralization–with particular attention on the mechanisms involved for mineral precipitation, making your work on biodegradable bone scaffolds of great interest–believing that the insights gained, particularly through the study of geomicrobiology may allow new strategies to be developed for the production of biocompatible bone implants or may even suggest future radical manufacturing technologies for the production of advanced composites for the automotive and aeronautical industries.

Biological structures are synthesized under mild energetic conditions using natural compounds, sparking wide interest in understanding and duplicating such “clean” production processes. As part of my M.Sc., at Imperial College, London, I conducted research at the Centre for Organized Matter Chemistry, Bristol (a group headed by Professor Steven Mann) and also the Geo-Engineering section at the Technical University Delft (TUD), both groups are world leaders in biologically induced mineral precipitation. Research at TUD looked at the Biogrout (Van Paassen, 2009) process, as an analogue for the development of a novel production methodology, where biological agents can be employed as a catalyst for casting useful mineral objects. I received an M.Sc., with merit from Imperial College and exhibited this work at The Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin in 2011.

Following the work above I was offered a research position at the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology in collaboration with Nanyang Technical University, Singapore. For this position a literature review was proposed and conducted to assess the ability of microorganisms to mine selected minerals out of seawater desalination brine. This study was based on compelling and burgeoning evidence from the field of geomicrobiology, which shows the ubiquitous role microorganisms play in the cycling of minerals on the planet. As lead researcher I am currently conducting experiments and building kinetic models to better understand and control the magnesium content of microbally induced carbonate precipitation. Based on this and the work conducted as part of my M.Sc., I have been invited to make a talk on: Radical production technologies inspired by Nature, at TED Full Spectrum, a conference being held in California of February 2012.

It is my aim to continue to research in the field of biomineralization, while exploring the mechanisms responsible for mild energetic mineral (including metal) precipitation for the production of mineral composites.

Languages

English, Spanish

Education

  • Imperial College London; Innovation Design Engineering, 2008 - 2010

Job Titles

Research Engineer, biominerologist

About Damian Palin’s work

The mining of minerals from desalination brines is considered to be a very attractive source for certain raw materials. It is usually recommended to recover minerals from desalinated brines to reduce fresh-water production costs and to minimize wastewater disposal. The objective of this proposal is to conduct a study to assess whether it is technologically feasible and economically beneficial to use a novel microbally induced technology to precipitate mineralized Mg out of the resultant brine from the SWRO processes.

Companies and organizations

Residues, Resource and Reclamation Center, Nanyang Technical University, Singapore

Uploaded photos

Projects

Biomining brine

May. 20, 2011 - Present

The mining of minerals from desalination brines is considered to be a very attractive source for certain raw materials. It is usually recommended to recover minerals from desalinated brines to reduce fresh-water production costs and to minimize wastewater disposal. The objective of this proposal is to conduct a study to assess whether it is technologically feasible and economically beneficial to use a novel microbally induced technology to precipitate mineralized Mg out of the resultant brine from the SWRO processes.

Damian Palin on the TED blog

Q&A

Micro-metal management: Fellows Friday with Damian Palin

June 15, 2012

Biomineralogist Damian Palin (watch his TED Talk) collaborates with bacteria to mine valuable minerals from desalination brine, the toxic byproduct of desalinating seawater — creating wealth from waste while protecting the environment. You work in the field of geomicrobiology. What is it, and why is it becoming increasingly important? Geomicrobiology is a field of science […]

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