U.S. Water News Online
RICHLAND, Wash. -- Recreation areas, golf courses, and backyards soon will be greener thanks to a root-growth-inhibiting technology originally developed by Battelle at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory to prevent root growth into buried low-level radioactive waste.
Battelle's licensee, Geoflow Inc. of Sausalito, Calif., has entered into an agreement with The Toro Company that allows Toro to manufacture and market underground irrigation systems for landscape applications that incorporate Battelle's "Rootguard" technology.
This root-inhibiting technology was first developed by Battelle in the early 1980s at the request of the Department of Energy (DOE) for use at sites where nuclear waste is stored. DOE wanted something that would permit ground cover to grow but would prevent roots from penetrating underlying clay and asphalt seals used to cover uranium mill tailings and prevent the escape of radon gas.
In the past few years, Battelle has entered into agreements with other companies to manufacture Rootguard-based products for various root control applications, including Geoflow's underground irrigation root-control technology for agricultural purposes.
"Underground systems are an efficient way to irrigate turf," said Dr. Peter Van Voris, a co-inventor of the process and a Battelle researcher at Pacific Northwest. "But historically they have been impractical since roots often clog the plastic emitters which discharge water."
The Toro root-control product solves this problem by using a molded plastic water emitter impregnated with Treflan, an environmentally friendly, root-growth-inhibiting herbicide produced by DowElanco. The plastic acts as a reservoir for the herbicide, which is released slowly into the soil surrounding the emitter at a uniform rate and prevents roots from clogging the buried water emitters.
Battelle is looking for licensees to modify the process for other applications, including the prevention of root growth in sewer gaskets, or as a means of insect control.
Return to the U.S. Water News Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water News Homepage