LAB-PROVEN: With this equipment, Manish M. Shah of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory has demonstrated that enzymes in spinach can neutralize explosives.
POPEYE WOULD BE PROUD Remember how Popeye turns into human dynamite whenever he eats spinach? Well, the new word is that enzymes in spinach may reduce dynamite to a harmless bunch of chemicals. Manish M. Shah, a research scientist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., is using nitroreductase enzymes to neutralize the nitroaromatic compounds in explosives. Nitroreductase enzymes--which normally are involved in photosynthesis--are ubiquitous, but Shah buys commercial stocks extracted from spinach. He says the pocket of such enzymes is big enough and comparable enough to suit nitroaromatics, and to continue a virtually endless catalysis of their reduction. Currently, unwanted explosives are incinerated. "It's a huge challenge for the Department of Defense to deal with explosive stockpiles. There are 500,000...

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