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Home > News > Discovery could limit nanotechnology's environmental impact

November 23rd, 2009

Discovery could limit nanotechnology's environmental impact

Abstract:
Coating silica nanoparticles in a detergent-like chemical known as a surfactant makes them clump together so they can easily be removed during primary wastewater treatment, scientists have found.

Scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), ISIS Neutron Source, King's College London and Oxford University simulated the environment in a primary sewage treatment facility, in which waste is initially held for a few hours in large tanks to allow solid matter to settle out.

They found that coating the nanoparticles in surfactant before introducing them into the sewage meant that the nanoparticles interacted with components of the sewage to form a solid sludge. This sludge can be separated from the wastewater and disposed of. By contrast, uncoated nanoparticles stayed dispersed in the wastewater and were likely to continue through the effluent stream.

Source:
planetearth.nerc.ac.uk

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