Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New method for extracting radioactive elements from air and water

21.07.2014

Scientists at the University of Liverpool have successfully tested a material that can extract atoms of rare or dangerous elements such as radon from the air.

Gases such as radon, xenon and krypton all occur naturally in the air but in minute quantities – typically less than one part per million. As a result they are expensive to extract for use in industries such as lighting or medicine and, in the case of radon, the gas can accumulate in buildings. In the US alone, radon accounts for around 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year.

Previous methods for extracting these elements have involved cryogenic technology, which is energy intensive and expensive. But now, the chemists from the University of Liverpool alongside colleagues at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA have used an 'organic cage molecule' called CC3 to separate krypton, radon and xenon from air at concentrations of only a few parts per million.

Chemist, Professor Andy Cooper, led the study. He said: "If you imagine sorting marbles then you see the problem with sorting these atoms. They are round in shape and of a similar size, not to mention that only one marble in every million is the one you are looking for."

CC3 which was developed in Liverpool is a molecule that is made up of cavities, or cages, into which gas molecules such as xenon and radon fit very precisely. By a process of adsorption – where molecules or atoms stick onto the surface – the right gas molecules are held in place, while others such as water or nitrogen are released.

Tests using columns packed with CC3 crystals have produced results far superior to the current best materials and this raises the possibility that CC3 could be used for commercial processes, for example in the clean-up of nuclear waste or in the adsorption and detection of radon gas in homes.

Further studies show that CC3 also has potential in the pharmaceutical industry, which uses molecules as feedstocks in the production of drugs, and where these molecular feedstocks need to be separated from other closely related molecules.

Professor Cooper concluded: "This material could solve commercial problems associated with the extraction of rare gases or other molecules from very dilute mixtures. The key is to design exactly the right fit between the cavity and the molecule that you want to capture."

###

The paper was published in the journal Nature Materials, and supported by a grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The University's Department of Chemistry collaborated with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Newcastle University and Aix-Marseille Université.

Jamie Brown | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.liverpool.ac.uk

Further reports about: Engineering Laboratory Pacific Physical feedstocks krypton radon xenon

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern
20.07.2018 | Princeton University

nachricht Relax, just break it
20.07.2018 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>