Microwave ovens were invented to give divorced men a quick, easy way to heat up their Hot Pockets while pondering where it all went wrong. But it turns out they’re good for other things, too.
The New York Times reports that one scientist has devised a plan to use microwaves to kill invasive bacteria and other organisms that stowaway on huge cargo ships.
The ships take on water to maintain stability while empty, then dump the water at a different port when they’re being loaded. Meanwhile, all those little critters in the water are transported from place to place and dumped out into the ocean.
Dr. Dorin Baldor of LSU says using microwaves to quickly heat the water to 140 degrees before purging it will kill off the potentially invasive organisms:
The system he developed uses a 5,000-watt microwave unit (most home ovens are 800 watts or less) and a “resonance cavity” that focuses the energy on a water pipe. By varying the power and water flow, the researchers raised the water temperature quickly to about 140 degrees, high enough to kill the organisms they studied, including algae, brine shrimp and oyster larvae. The findings are published in Environmental Science and Technology.
If my experience with this technology is any indicator, the main obstacle to success will be even heating of the organisms. The edges of the boat’s ballast tank will be piping hot while the middle will still be lukewarm, even after following the goddamn instructions. You can stir and stir, but still you’ll get some pockets that stay cool while others set the entire roof of your mouth on fire. Goddamn pizza rolls.
Microwave Is Redirected to Kill Shipboard Pests [New York Times]