Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Ancient sands key to cleaning up industrial pollution

26.03.2004


CSIRO research has found unusual properties in ilmenite sand from the Murray Basin that could be harnessed to remove heavy metal and radioactive pollution from mine drainage, industrial waste streams, and ground water.




CSIRO scientists discovered the sand grains contains tiny holes, just nanometres across, but just the right size to potentially capture and filter out toxic pollutants from mining and other industrial wastes, as well as catalyse important industrial processes.

Dr Ian Grey, a mineralogist from CSIRO Minerals who will tonight receive a Clunies Ross Award for his substantial contribution to Australia’s mineral sands industry, discovered the strongly weathered sands’ unusual properties whilst studying their chemical makeup.


But it was the ilmenite grains’ unusual physical properties that captured Dr Grey’s interest. "The weathering has created nanoscale porosity in the sand grains," says Dr Grey. "This means the grains may act like molecular sieves, selectively adsorbing a variety of different chemicals within the nanopores."

"Normally we process such sands to produce products such as titania pigment feedstocks and titanium metal, but the Murray Basin sands may have opened the door to new ways to prevent pollution reaching the environment and to clean up environments already polluted," he says.

Nanoporous silicate materials became a commercial reality in 1992, and in recent years considerable effort has gone into attempts to synthesise nanoporous titanates. However, substantial obstacles to commercialisation remain, including high cost of reactants and lack of thermal stability.

"The weathered mineral sands have a number of natural advantages over the synthetic versions," says Dr Grey, "They are mechanically strong and thermally stable to relatively high temperatures. And they exist naturally - hey provide a value-dded product with minimal processing required."

The Murray Basin’s vast mineral sands deposits - rich in the economic minerals ilmenite, rutile and zircon - were formed along ancient coastlines, where the heavier minerals were concentrated by wave and wind action. Over millions of years, sea, sun and air have weathered these sands and changed their physical and chemical structures.

Dr Grey is continuing to characterise these ancient weathered sands in order to further determine the potential applications of Murray Basin minerals sands. He plans to apply this knowledge to develop and test procedures for industrial uses of these natural minerals, and to aid the design of procedures for synthesising equivalent materials.

Dr Grey is one of two CSIRO scientists to be presented with ATSE Clunies Ross Awards tonight in Melbourne.

The other CSIRO winner is Dr Rob Evans of CSIRO Forestry and Forest Products who will receive an award for his research into the development of a wood imaging system.


Scientific enquiries and contact with Dr Ian Grey:
Meg Rive, CSIRO Minerals, (03) 9545 8614, mobile: 0438 007 301
Email: Meg.Rive@csiro.au

Information about the ATSE Clunies Ross Awards:
Niall Byrne, (03) 5253 1391, mobile: 0417 131 977
Email: niall@scienceinpublic.com Visit our website: http://www.scienceinpublic.com/

Geoff Burchfield | CSIRO
Further information:
http://www.csiro.au/index.asp?type=mediaRelease&id=Prmolecularsieve

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Bioinvasion on the rise
15.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz

nachricht Litter Levels in the Depths of the Arctic are On the Rise
10.02.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung

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: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Microhotplates for a smart gas sensor

22.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists unlock ability to generate new sensory hair cells

22.02.2017 | Life Sciences

Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars

22.02.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>