Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Suprising discovery may lead to new understanding of water quality

12.07.2006
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have discovered new ways that ions interact with mineral surfaces in water, opening a door to new knowledge on how contaminants travel in the environment. The insight, leads to a better understanding of the factors that determine water quality.

Water – colorless, odorless and tasteless – may seem simple, but its interaction with minerals can be difficult to study. Ions (ranging from nutrients such as calcium, to contaminants such as lead) are present in natural waters, but their transport is often limited by adsorption to mineral surfaces. The more scientists can understand about the interaction of minerals with water and ions, the more effectively they can control water quality in our environment, and Argonne's research in this area is making a leading contribution to the field.

Contrary to generally held scientific assumptions, the simple textbook description of how ions adsorb to mineral-water interfaces has been shown to not be universally true. Argonne Physicist Paul Fenter stated "Ions are known to carry a hydration shell in water. Previously, it was thought that ions either adsorb to a mineral surface with this shell intact as an outer-sphere ion, or remove part of this shell to directly bind to the mineral as an inner-sphere ion. We now know that this is not just a black and white difference, but have discovered new shades of gray by showing that outer-sphere and inner-sphere species of the same ion can co-exist."

This revelation was the outcome of a new element-specific method developed to understand the behavior of ions at the interface between minerals and liquids, like water. According to Argonne Chemist Changyong Park, "Conventional methods provided no direct sensitivity to observing this behavior. Outer-sphere species were almost invisible and extremely difficult to identify. There was just no way to see the co-existence of both species previously."

Using the Advanced Photon Source (APS) at Argonne, which provides the western hemisphere's most brilliant x-ray beams for research, the team was able to make this new discovery. These x-rays enabled scientists to pursue new knowledge about the structure and function of materials – and develop new methods for scientific study. Using the APS, the team was able to take advantage of the technique's spectroscopic sensitivity to identify the way specific ions interact at mineral-water interfaces and visualize the phenomena directly.

The findings built on earlier work on cation adsorption using traditional x-ray scattering techniques. The Argonne scientists, working together with researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, previously discovered an anomaly in the way that ions adsorb. The team collaborated again with the new element-specific technique which led to this new discovery, central to understanding the behavior of ions at solid-liquid interfaces.

Water is the "universal solvent", dissolving more substances than any other liquid. This means that wherever water goes, either through the ground or through our bodies, it takes ions along with it. A general understanding of this behavior and the development of a new scientific method for studying this phenomenon may lead to better understanding of various other processes that take place at solid-liquid interfaces, including corrosion, erosion, catalysis, and even the biological behavior of cell membranes.

Eleanor Taylor | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.anl.gov

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms
25.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor
24.04.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>