Soil cleansing using laser zap

Our global food system depends on the size of the farmland to the size of the growing population. Unfortunately, soil erosion or pollution has destroyed one-third of the cultivable land. Hence, soil cleansing has become the need of the hour.

Causes of soil pollution

There are numerous man-made and natural causes of soil pollution. However, the man-made effect outweighs the natural causes. The most common man-made effects are listed below:

  • Man-made fertilisers and chemicals used to improve crop yields can remain in the soil for a very long time.
  • Anti-toxins added in animal manure cause soil degradation.
  • Oil spills and industry waste also affect large areas of farmland.

Common methods for soil cleansing

Soil cleansing has become one of the prime narratives in today’s world. If we do not begin with soil cleansing practices then soon, we won’t have enough farmland to feed our population.

Two of the most common methods to clean the soil are:

  • Water or organic solvents to wash away the chemicals.
  • Soil vapour extraction to pump air into the ground and remove volatile organic compounds.

Laser Blasting to cleanse the soil

Ming Su, an associate professor of Chemical Engineering at Northeastern University has made major developments in the field of soil cleansing. He developed an inexpensive and easy way to decontaminate dirt in the soil — Blasting. Blasting soil with an infrared laser quickly breaks down its pollutants. The laser light heats the pollutant and kills them at a temperature of thousands of degrees.

To test his method, Su scanned the soil with ultraviolet light after the blasting. He found that the toxin had disappeared.

Lastly, to determine whether lasers can blast away other types of soil contaminants advanced studies are being carried out. If the lasers are successful then the next step will be to collaborate with land and agriculture experts. Then this research would be put into actual practice.

Manavi Pandey

Originally published at



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