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 Despite government claims, orangutan populations have not increased. Call for better monitoring
06.11.2018 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Increasing frequency of ocean storms could alter kelp forest ecosystems
30.10.2018 | University of Virginia

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: UNH scientists help provide first-ever views of elusive energy explosion

Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.

Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...

Im Focus: A Chip with Blood Vessels

Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.

Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...

Im Focus: A Leap Into Quantum Technology

Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.

In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...

Im Focus: Research icebreaker Polarstern begins the Antarctic season

What does it look like below the ice shelf of the calved massive iceberg A68?

On Saturday, 10 November 2018, the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its homeport of Bremerhaven, bound for Cape Town, South Africa.

Im Focus: Penn engineers develop ultrathin, ultralight 'nanocardboard'

When choosing materials to make something, trade-offs need to be made between a host of properties, such as thickness, stiffness and weight. Depending on the application in question, finding just the right balance is the difference between success and failure

Now, a team of Penn Engineers has demonstrated a new material they call "nanocardboard," an ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. A square...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

“3rd Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP 2018” Attracts International Experts and Users

09.11.2018 | Event News

On the brain’s ability to find the right direction

06.11.2018 | Event News

European Space Talks: Weltraumschrott – eine Gefahr für die Gesellschaft?

23.10.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'

16.11.2018 | Health and Medicine

Good preparation is half the digestion

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

Microscope measures muscle weakness

16.11.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>