University wants to clean up fracking

The University of Minnesota is looking into how to clean up water used in fracking, a controversial method of extracting oil and gas from shale.

Headed by Larry Wackett, a professor in the College of Biological Sciences, the team is examining ways to purify water used in the process. It has received $600,000 from the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for Innovation.

University scientists are using naturally occurring bacteria, an idea first used to remove pesticides from soil and water.

Fracking is a process forcing water, sand and chemicals deep into the ground, creating fissures so natural gas and oil may be recovered.

“The University of Minnesota is not taking sides in the fracking debate, but as a land-grant research institution, it is uniquely positioned to carry out necessary and beneficial research,” Wackett said. “There are many efforts ongoing to improve the treatment of water used in fracking and we feel that biotechnology can play a significant role in the overall effort.”

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