Water softening techniques are very effective for removing minerals such as calcium and magnesium, which occur as positively-charged ions in "hard" water. But many heavy metals and other inorganic pollutants form negatively-charged ions in water, and existing water treatment processes to remove them are inefficient and expensive.
Chemists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, have now developed a new type of material that can soak up negatively-charged pollutants from water. The new material, which they call SLUG-26, could be used to treat polluted water through an ion exchange process similar to water softening. In a water softener, sodium ions weakly attached to a negatively-charged resin are exchanged for the hard-water minerals, which are held more tightly by the resin. SLUG-26 provides a positively-charged substrate that can exchange a nontoxic negative ion for the negatively-charged pollutants.
"Our goal for the past 12 years has been to make materials that can trap pollutants, and we finally got what we wanted. The data show that the exchange process works," said Scott Oliver, associate professor of chemistry at UC Santa Cruz.
The chemical name for SLUG-26 is copper hydroxide ethanedisulfonate. It has a layered structure of positively-charged two-dimensional sheets with a high capacity for holding onto negative ions. Oliver and UCSC graduate student Honghan Fei described the compound in a paper that will be published in the journal Angewandte Chemie and is currently available online.
The researchers are currently focusing on the use of SLUG-26 to trap the radioactive metal technetium, which is a major concern for long-term disposal of radioactive waste. Technetium is produced in nuclear reactors and has a long half-life of 212,000 years. It forms the negative ion pertechnetate in water and can leach out of solid waste, making groundwater contamination a serious concern.
"It's a problem because of its environmental mobility, so they need new ways to trap it," Oliver said.
In their initial studies, the researchers used manganese, which forms the negative ion permanganate, as a non-radioactive analog for technetium and pertechnetate. The next step will be to work with technetium and see if SLUG-26 performs as effectively as it did in the initial studies.
"Whether or not it can be used in the real world is still to be seen, but so far it looks very promising," Oliver said.
This research was supported by the National Science Foundation.
Tim Stephens | EurekAlert!
If Machines Could Smell ...
19.07.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung IPA
Algae-killing viruses spur nutrient recycling in oceans
18.07.2019 | Rutgers University
Adjusting the thermal conductivity of materials is one of the challenges nanoscience is currently facing. Together with colleagues from the Netherlands and Spain, researchers from the University of Basel have shown that the atomic vibrations that determine heat generation in nanowires can be controlled through the arrangement of atoms alone. The scientists will publish the results shortly in the journal Nano Letters.
In the electronics and computer industry, components are becoming ever smaller and more powerful. However, there are problems with the heat generation. It is...
Scientists have visualised the electronic structure in a microelectronic device for the first time, opening up opportunities for finely-tuned high performance electronic devices.
Physicists from the University of Warwick and the University of Washington have developed a technique to measure the energy and momentum of electrons in...
Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.
Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...
For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.
Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...
An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".
The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...
24.06.2019 | Event News
29.04.2019 | Event News
17.04.2019 | Event News
19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.07.2019 | Physics and Astronomy
19.07.2019 | Earth Sciences