Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New method for extracting radioactive elements from air and water

21.07.2014

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have successfully tested a material that can extract atoms of rare or dangerous elements such as radon from the air.

Gases such as radon, xenon and krypton all occur naturally in the air but in minute quantities – typically less than one part per million. As a result they are expensive to extract for use in industries such as lighting or medicine and, in the case of radon, the gas can accumulate in buildings. In the US alone, radon accounts for around 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year.

Previous methods for extracting these elements have involved cryogenic technology, which is energy intensive and expensive. But now, the chemists from the University of Liverpool alongside colleagues at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA have used an 'organic cage molecule' called CC3 to separate krypton, radon and xenon from air at concentrations of only a few parts per million.

Chemist, Professor Andy Cooper, led the study. He said: "If you imagine sorting marbles then you see the problem with sorting these atoms. They are round in shape and of a similar size, not to mention that only one marble in every million is the one you are looking for."

CC3 which was developed in Liverpool is a molecule that is made up of cavities, or cages, into which gas molecules such as xenon and radon fit very precisely. By a process of adsorption – where molecules or atoms stick onto the surface – the right gas molecules are held in place, while others such as water or nitrogen are released.

Tests using columns packed with CC3 crystals have produced results far superior to the current best materials and this raises the possibility that CC3 could be used for commercial processes, for example in the clean-up of nuclear waste or in the adsorption and detection of radon gas in homes.

Further studies show that CC3 also has potential in the pharmaceutical industry, which uses molecules as feedstocks in the production of drugs, and where these molecular feedstocks need to be separated from other closely related molecules.

Professor Cooper concluded: "This material could solve commercial problems associated with the extraction of rare gases or other molecules from very dilute mixtures. The key is to design exactly the right fit between the cavity and the molecule that you want to capture."

###

The paper was published in the journal Nature Materials, and supported by a grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The University's Department of Chemistry collaborated with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Newcastle University and Aix-Marseille Université.

Jamie Brown | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.liverpool.ac.uk

Further reports about: Engineering Laboratory Pacific Physical feedstocks krypton radon xenon

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht New biomaterial could replace plastic laminates, greatly reduce pollution
21.09.2017 | Penn State

nachricht Stopping problem ice -- by cracking it
21.09.2017 | Norwegian University of Science and Technology

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>