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 Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt

nachricht Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon
09.12.2016 | Wildlife Conservation Society

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: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

Im Focus: Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists at the University of Bonn have now, in cooperation with researchers at the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host. The study has now been published in “Biophysical Journal”.

The cells of the mouth, nose and intestinal mucosa produce large quantities of a chemical called sialic acid. Many bacteria possess a special transport system...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Water - as the underlying driver of the Earth’s carbon cycle

17.01.2017 | Earth Sciences

Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

17.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Smart homes will “LISTEN” to your voice

17.01.2017 | Architecture and Construction

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>