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 Understanding high efficiency of deep ultraviolet LEDs
22.02.2019 | Tohoku University

nachricht Large-scale window material developed for PM2.5 capture and light tuning
18.02.2019 | University of Science and Technology of China

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: (Re)solving the jet/cocoon riddle of a gravitational wave event

An international research team including astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has combined radio telescopes from five continents to prove the existence of a narrow stream of material, a so-called jet, emerging from the only gravitational wave event involving two neutron stars observed so far. With its high sensitivity and excellent performance, the 100-m radio telescope in Effelsberg played an important role in the observations.

In August 2017, two neutron stars were observed colliding, producing gravitational waves that were detected by the American LIGO and European Virgo detectors....

Im Focus: Light from a roll – hybrid OLED creates innovative and functional luminous surfaces

Up to now, OLEDs have been used exclusively as a novel lighting technology for use in luminaires and lamps. However, flexible organic technology can offer much more: as an active lighting surface, it can be combined with a wide variety of materials, not just to modify but to revolutionize the functionality and design of countless existing products. To exemplify this, the Fraunhofer FEP together with the company EMDE development of light GmbH will be presenting hybrid flexible OLEDs integrated into textile designs within the EU-funded project PI-SCALE for the first time at LOPEC (March 19-21, 2019 in Munich, Germany) as examples of some of the many possible applications.

The Fraunhofer FEP, a provider of research and development services in the field of organic electronics, has long been involved in the development of...

Im Focus: Regensburg physicists watch electron transfer in a single molecule

For the first time, an international team of scientists based in Regensburg, Germany, has recorded the orbitals of single molecules in different charge states in a novel type of microscopy. The research findings are published under the title “Mapping orbital changes upon electron transfer with tunneling microscopy on insulators” in the prestigious journal “Nature”.

The building blocks of matter surrounding us are atoms and molecules. The properties of that matter, however, are often not set by these building blocks...

Im Focus: University of Konstanz gains new insights into the recent development of the human immune system

Scientists at the University of Konstanz identify fierce competition between the human immune system and bacterial pathogens

Cell biologists from the University of Konstanz shed light on a recent evolutionary process in the human immune system and publish their findings in the...

Im Focus: Transformation through Light

Laser physicists have taken snapshots of carbon molecules C₆₀ showing how they transform in intense infrared light

When carbon molecules C₆₀ are exposed to an intense infrared light, they change their ball-like structure to a more elongated version. This has now been...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Global Legal Hackathon at HAW Hamburg

11.02.2019 | Event News

The world of quantum chemistry meets in Heidelberg

30.01.2019 | Event News

Our digital society in 2040

16.01.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

JILA researchers make coldest quantum gas of molecules

22.02.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

Understanding high efficiency of deep ultraviolet LEDs

22.02.2019 | Materials Sciences

Russian scientists show changes in the erythrocyte nanostructure under stress

22.02.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>