Hyperaccumulators are plants that grow on soils with a high heavy metal content and are able to store minerals such as copper, nickel, zinc or cadmium in their biomass. They have found an evolutionary niche in volcanic soil, industrial heaps or former mining and open-cast mining areas, in which they do not simply ignore or bypass the problematic substances, but instead absorb a large proportion of them.
The stored heavy metals can be extracted and reused, which turns the plants into biological ore mines and soils can be rehabilitated over the years. This is also the case in industrial areas and landfills, which are located in the Austrian Altlastenatlas, an index for contaminated sites in Austria. Sofar the theory. As early as the 1960s, a process was developed to extract ore from plants and to enable plant ore mining.
However, this basic research was funded by an investment firm that secured the patents for commercial use but did not pursue them any further. The research went on cautiously and even if the patents have now expired, the current inefficiency of the processes calls the research into question.
In their artistic work “Toxic Stories”, Raphael and Andreas immerse themselves in the topic and present stories, events and encounters that they document during the process-based research trip.
Visit the Toxic Stories at: https://toxic-stories.radical-openness.org/