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 Physics, photosynthesis and solar cells
01.12.2016 | University of California - Riverside

nachricht New process produces hydrogen at much lower temperature
01.12.2016 | Waseda University

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

Im Focus: MADMAX: Max Planck Institute for Physics takes up axion research

The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.

The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...

Im Focus: Molecules change shape when wet

Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water

In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...

Im Focus: Fraunhofer ISE Develops Highly Compact, High Frequency DC/DC Converter for Aviation

The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.

Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

UTSA study describes new minimally invasive device to treat cancer and other illnesses

02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering

Plasma-zapping process could yield trans fat-free soybean oil product

02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?

02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>