Damian Palin is developing a way to use bacteria to biologically "mine" minerals from water — specifically, out of the brine left over from the desalinization process.

Why you should listen

Research engineer Damian Palin has long been fascinated by the process of biomineralization–with particular attention on the mechanisms involved for mineral precipitation. At the Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (in collaboration with Nanyang Technical University, Singapore), he conducts experiments 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 that microorganisms play in the cycling of minerals on the planet. 

He says: "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."

Read our in-depth Q&A with Damian Palin >>

Damian Palin’s TED talks

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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Quotes from Damian Palin

I'd like you to imagine a mining industry in a way that one hasn't existed before. Imagine a mining industry that doesn't mean defiling the Earth.
Damian Palin
TED2012 • 817K views Jun 2012
Ingenious, Informative