Ryu and I have been working hard to align the final steps of our project. We made twenty four containers containing sterile dirt. We are then going to put different measurements of lead in each of them. After that we are going to introduce the two species of fungi that we found at Duke Energy. If the fungi grow we will then add earthworms into the soil to help them bioremediate the lead out of the soil.
The worm part of our project is just getting started. The red earthworms just arrived and are ready to be subjected to coal ash filled with heavy metals. The specific earthworm (Eisenia fetida) Ryu and I chose is known to be able to withstand a wide range of environment conditions and fluctuation. The worms will be used for vermiremediation, the process in which earthworms remove toxins from the soil through bioacumulation, of the heavy metals in the coal ash.
The new school year is in full swing, but the fun is just getting started. We started off to the races as Aiden and I visited the local Duke Energy coal plant. We were led on a tour of the facility by Laurie, the environmental adviser for Duke Energy. She led us to one of the coal ash pits that was layered with clay and was covered in tall grass. It was there where we found the bird’s nest fungi, which we will cover next week, and were able to collect a sample of coal ash. We can now scan the coal ash for heavy metals, and then add the ash to a soil mixture. Heavy metals can be highly toxic, and with the burning of coal, the level of toxicity is rising at an alarming rate. But with worms and fungi in hand, Aiden and I are prepared to stop heavy metals in soil!