Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New compound may immobilize AIDS virus, certain radionuclides

15.08.2002


’Something new and exciting’ found serendipitously



A compound that could potentially immobilize the AIDS virus or selectively extract radionuclides from nuclear wastes at various U.S.high-level storage sites has been developed by a researcher at Sandia National Laboratories who wasn’t even looking for it.

An article in the current issue of Science describes characteristics of the newly discovered, extremely active compound, called niobium heteropolyanions (hetero-poly-an-ions) or HPAs.


"It wasn’t difficult to synthesize, it was luck," lead researcher May Nyman says of her discovery. "I wasn’t going after it intentionally, but after I found it, I realized I had something new and exciting."

Nyman found the right conditions to synthesize the first niobium HPA, and then tweaked to create an assortment of them.

The entities became the first niobium HPAs ever reported - basic materials formed inexpensively at the relatively benign and easily achievable temperature and pressure of boiling water.

Unlike other HPAs, niobium HPAs are basic rather than acidic, which means they can survive longer and possibly even thrive in the generally basic or neutral environments of radioactive wastes and blood, respectively.

Preliminary work with Savannah River site indicates that the new compounds do indeed selectively remove certain radionuclides from their waste solutions.

To bind viruses, researchers have tested a host of HPA compositions, says Nyman. "In these exhaustive studies, it’s been found that HPAs with small amounts of iron or niobium have an especially strong binding effect. Now we have HPAs that are completely niobium."

HPAs in the form of oxides of vanadium, tungsten, and molybdenum have been known to researchers since the late 19th century. The compounds’ peripheries consist of voraciously active oxygen ions. These have long intrigued researchers because of their capabilities to do much useful chemistry, including bind viruses and large metal atoms such as some radionuclides.

Once such compounds bind with an AIDs virus, the virus is no longer capable of entering a cell to damage it. HPAs may also bind with radionuclides called actinides, which removes them from the mixture by phase separation for easier and safer storage.

While previously known HPAs were made cheaply and easily at room temperatures and pressures, they were known to be stable only in acid environments.

This behavior means they cannot function well in blood as antiviral agents, because blood is neither acidic nor basic but instead is neutral.

Even worse, the liquid nuclear wastes at most waste sites - for example, Hanford, Savannah River, and Oak Ridge - are extremely basic. These environments attack acidic compounds and cause them to fall apart, says Nyman.

Nyman’s discovery of the base-stable HPA came about when Sandia was called upon by the Savannah River Site to find the cause of a clogging problem at the site’s attempts to extract a dangerously radioactive isotope of cesium. The extraction called for passing nuclear waste solution through a column of pebble-sized materials called zeolites that sequester cesium into tiny pores. She found that the zeolites contained small amounts of an impurity that forms during manufacturing. The acidic manufacturing treatment of the zeolites led to column-clogging behavior of the impurity. Identifying the problem concluded her task, but scientific curiosity led her to attempt to create the compound as an independent entity.

"I was curious to see if I could synthesis it pure, rather than leave it merely as a discovered impurity," says Nyman.

Her research on developing and utilizing HPAs, will be soon be supported by two Laboratory-Directed Research and Development grants, as well as the Environmental Management Science Project out of the DOE Office of Science in collaboration with Savannah River site.

"One man’s trash is another’s treasure," Nyman says of her experience. "What used to be clogging columns could now be taking out radionuclides, so it can be Savannah River’s and DOE’s treasure in the end, as well."

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.


###
Story and images available at www.sandia.gov/news-center/news-releases/2002/mat-chem/mayday.html
Sandia National Laboratories’ World Wide Web home page is located at http://www.sandia.gov.
Sandia news releases, news tips, science photo gallery, and periodicals can be found at the News and Events button.

Sandia National Laboratories
A Department of Energy National Laboratory
Managed and Operated by Sandia Corporation
ALBUQUERQUE, NM LIVERMORE, CA
MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT MS 0165
ALBUQUERQUE, NM 87185-0165
PHONE: 505-844-8066 FAX: 505-844-0645

Neal Singer | EurekAlert!

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht World first: Massive thrombosis removed during early pregnancy
20.07.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

nachricht Therapy of preterm birth in sight?
19.07.2017 | Universitätsspital Bern

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

Im Focus: Laser-cooled ions contribute to better understanding of friction

Physics supports biology: Researchers from PTB have developed a model system to investigate friction phenomena with atomic precision

Friction: what you want from car brakes, otherwise rather a nuisance. In any case, it is useful to know as precisely as possible how friction phenomena arise –...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA looks to solar eclipse to help understand Earth's energy system

21.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Stanford researchers develop a new type of soft, growing robot

21.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Vortex photons from electrons in circular motion

21.07.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>