Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Nuclear probe may be new weapon against acid mine drainage, salinity

21.11.2002


A nuclear probe developed by CSIRO for minerals exploration and mining may soon be used to combat some of the world’s biggest environmental problems.



Overseas the probe could help prevent acid rain, one of the most pressing environmental problems in the northern hemisphere.

CSIRO also hopes to use the probe to measure salt concentrations in soil as part of its assault on dryland salinity.


"Acid rain is caused when high sulphur fossil fuels are burnt," says Dr Mihai Borsaru, a nuclear physicist at CSIRO Exploration and Mining. "Australian coal is low in sulphur but some coal extracted from Europe and North America is not. Armed with data from the probe, companies will be able to leave high sulphur coals in the ground."

Scientists expect that the portable borehole logging instrument, one of CSIRO’s SIROLOG suite of products, will be used to measure sulphur in mine waste rock and in coal.

"Sulphur is the bane of the mining industry. High concentrations in waste rock, cause acid mine drainage. The sulphur oxidises and combines with water to form sulphuric acid, which, in high volumes, wreaks havoc on the environment."

Dr Borsaru told the Industrial Radioisotopes and Radiation Measurement Applications conference in Bologna, Italy recently that the probe would optimise the management of waste rock.

"It will provide mining companies with accurate sulphur readings in boreholes," he said.

The probe centres on ’neutron capture’ in a technique called prompt gamma neutron activation analysis (PGNAA).

Neutrons emitted by a source, the artificial isotope californium-252, hit the rock and are captured by the nuclei of atoms in it. The nuclei are now slightly heavier and in an excited state. They relax by ejecting gamma rays, the energy of which betrays the identity of the elements.

The probe complements chemical analysis, and since it investigates bulk properties, it generates data that is more representative than chemical data.

The PGNAA probe is part of the SIROLOG suite of instruments in use in Australia and overseas for exploration, mine planning and production. Initially designed for the mining industry, the probe is also being evaluated for its potential as an environmental management tool.

It is one of several products including hand-held instruments and other borehole logging probes based on natural gamma and gamma-gamma techniques.

Various SIROLOG systems are in use in the mining industries in Australia, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Chile, Columbia, Iran and Egypt.

The Australian Coal Association Research Program and mining companies have contributed more than $2 million to the SIROLOG project.

Collaborators included Hamersley Iron, Century Zinc, the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, BHP, Callide Mines, and the Brisbane-based Auslog, which holds a non-exclusive licence for the technology.

More information:

Mr Mark Berry +61 7 3327 4570
mark.berry@csiro.au

Dr Mihai Borsaru +61 7 3327 4627
m.borsaru@csiro.au

Robert Hoge, mobile: 0438 120 401
robert.hoge@csiro.au

Rosie Schmedding | EurekAlert!

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

nachricht Value from wastewater
16.08.2017 | Hochschule Landshut

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Fizzy soda water could be key to clean manufacture of flat wonder material: Graphene

Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.

As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...

Im Focus: Exotic quantum states made from light: Physicists create optical “wells” for a super-photon

Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...

Im Focus: Circular RNA linked to brain function

For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.

While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...

Im Focus: RAVAN CubeSat measures Earth's outgoing energy

An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.

The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...

Im Focus: Scientists shine new light on the “other high temperature superconductor”

A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.

Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Call for Papers – ICNFT 2018, 5th International Conference on New Forming Technology

16.08.2017 | Event News

Sustainability is the business model of tomorrow

04.08.2017 | Event News

Clash of Realities 2017: Registration now open. International Conference at TH Köln

26.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers devise microreactor to study formation of methane hydrate

23.08.2017 | Materials Sciences

ShAPEing the future of magnesium car parts

23.08.2017 | Automotive Engineering

New insights into the world of trypanosomes

23.08.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>