Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New compound may immobilize AIDS virus, certain radionuclides

15.08.2002


’Something new and exciting’ found serendipitously



A compound that could potentially immobilize the AIDS virus or selectively extract radionuclides from nuclear wastes at various U.S.high-level storage sites has been developed by a researcher at Sandia National Laboratories who wasn’t even looking for it.

An article in the current issue of Science describes characteristics of the newly discovered, extremely active compound, called niobium heteropolyanions (hetero-poly-an-ions) or HPAs.


"It wasn’t difficult to synthesize, it was luck," lead researcher May Nyman says of her discovery. "I wasn’t going after it intentionally, but after I found it, I realized I had something new and exciting."

Nyman found the right conditions to synthesize the first niobium HPA, and then tweaked to create an assortment of them.

The entities became the first niobium HPAs ever reported - basic materials formed inexpensively at the relatively benign and easily achievable temperature and pressure of boiling water.

Unlike other HPAs, niobium HPAs are basic rather than acidic, which means they can survive longer and possibly even thrive in the generally basic or neutral environments of radioactive wastes and blood, respectively.

Preliminary work with Savannah River site indicates that the new compounds do indeed selectively remove certain radionuclides from their waste solutions.

To bind viruses, researchers have tested a host of HPA compositions, says Nyman. "In these exhaustive studies, it’s been found that HPAs with small amounts of iron or niobium have an especially strong binding effect. Now we have HPAs that are completely niobium."

HPAs in the form of oxides of vanadium, tungsten, and molybdenum have been known to researchers since the late 19th century. The compounds’ peripheries consist of voraciously active oxygen ions. These have long intrigued researchers because of their capabilities to do much useful chemistry, including bind viruses and large metal atoms such as some radionuclides.

Once such compounds bind with an AIDs virus, the virus is no longer capable of entering a cell to damage it. HPAs may also bind with radionuclides called actinides, which removes them from the mixture by phase separation for easier and safer storage.

While previously known HPAs were made cheaply and easily at room temperatures and pressures, they were known to be stable only in acid environments.

This behavior means they cannot function well in blood as antiviral agents, because blood is neither acidic nor basic but instead is neutral.

Even worse, the liquid nuclear wastes at most waste sites - for example, Hanford, Savannah River, and Oak Ridge - are extremely basic. These environments attack acidic compounds and cause them to fall apart, says Nyman.

Nyman’s discovery of the base-stable HPA came about when Sandia was called upon by the Savannah River Site to find the cause of a clogging problem at the site’s attempts to extract a dangerously radioactive isotope of cesium. The extraction called for passing nuclear waste solution through a column of pebble-sized materials called zeolites that sequester cesium into tiny pores. She found that the zeolites contained small amounts of an impurity that forms during manufacturing. The acidic manufacturing treatment of the zeolites led to column-clogging behavior of the impurity. Identifying the problem concluded her task, but scientific curiosity led her to attempt to create the compound as an independent entity.

"I was curious to see if I could synthesis it pure, rather than leave it merely as a discovered impurity," says Nyman.

Her research on developing and utilizing HPAs, will be soon be supported by two Laboratory-Directed Research and Development grants, as well as the Environmental Management Science Project out of the DOE Office of Science in collaboration with Savannah River site.

"One man’s trash is another’s treasure," Nyman says of her experience. "What used to be clogging columns could now be taking out radionuclides, so it can be Savannah River’s and DOE’s treasure in the end, as well."

Sandia is a multiprogram laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a Lockheed Martin company, for the U.S. Department of Energy. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies, and economic competitiveness.


###
Story and images available at www.sandia.gov/news-center/news-releases/2002/mat-chem/mayday.html
Sandia National Laboratories’ World Wide Web home page is located at http://www.sandia.gov.
Sandia news releases, news tips, science photo gallery, and periodicals can be found at the News and Events button.

Sandia National Laboratories
A Department of Energy National Laboratory
Managed and Operated by Sandia Corporation
ALBUQUERQUE, NM LIVERMORE, CA
MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT MS 0165
ALBUQUERQUE, NM 87185-0165
PHONE: 505-844-8066 FAX: 505-844-0645

Neal Singer | EurekAlert!

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Purdue cancer identity technology makes it easier to find a tumor's 'address'
16.11.2018 | Purdue University

nachricht Microgel powder fights infection and helps wounds heal
14.11.2018 | Michigan Technological University

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

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 >>>