A new study suggests that the trusty kitchen microwave can do more than reheat last night’s leftovers – it can remove diesel and petrol from polluted soil.
Researchers suggest that it removes pollutants more quickly and cheaply than traditional methods, such as chemical treatment or conventional heating. Ridding the soil of harmful chemicals allows plants to flourish and helps the environment and climate.
They found that the technique works best on loosely packed, moist soil, where the microwave energy can deeply penetrate and create steam to strip away contaminants.
Researchers suggested a soil needs to be less than 70cm if it is to be properly treated. They also advise avoiding the highest power settings, as although this cleans more thoroughly, it is not often necessary and wastes much more energy.
Differences in soil types means microwave treatment can cost between €20 (£17.61) and €160 (£68.86) per tonne.
The low cost and quick timescale of microwave cleaning make it a suitable alternative to conventional treatments, so it could become an economically viable method of treatment in the future.