The Sunflower Project
Could a humble weed be the answer to the uranium problem?
We all know sunflowers are beautiful. But recent research suggests they’re not just another pretty face.
Scientists in Korea and other countries have discovered the humble weeds soak up uranium, arsenic and other heavy metals.
No one knows how or why they do this.
“It’s not just like they’re tolerating the uranium,” said Zak Webber, a junior in molecular biology at Brigham Young University. “They actually seem to have some use for it.”
What no one has ever investigated, at least that Webber could find, is whether sunflowers could be put to work taking uranium out of soil and water. For his senior project, Webber decided to pose that question — with the help of people who deal with uranium contamination every day: the Navajo.