Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Nanoparticles seek and destroy groundwater toxins

Dr Denis O'Carroll and colleagues at groundwater test site in Ontario, Canada
Dr Denis O'Carroll and colleagues at groundwater test site in Ontario, Canada

Abstract:
Iron nanoparticles encapsulated in a rust-preventing polymer coating could hold incredible potential for cleaning up groundwater contaminated with toxic chemicals, a leading water expert says.

Nanoparticles seek and destroy groundwater toxins

Sydney, Australia | Posted on June 4th, 2012

Hundreds of sites around Sydney where soils have been contaminated from past industrial waste, landfills and gas leaks are known to exist, including the former HMAS Platypus submarine base in Neutral Bay and the Orica site in Botany Bay.

"Toxic contamination of soils is an historical problem," says Dr Denis O'Carroll, a visiting academic at the UNSW Water Research Lab. "Until the 1970s, people wrongly believed that if we put these toxins into the ground they would simply disappear - that the subsurface would act as a natural filtration unit."

"The possibility of this waste polluting the environment, and potentially contaminating groundwater sources and remaining there for decades was ignored," he says.

Far from magically disappearing, chemical contaminants from spilled gas and solvents, when not directly polluting surface waters, seep down into the earth, travelling through microscopic soil cracks, where they accumulate and can eventually reach the groundwater table.

Traditional clean-up methods have focussed on pumping out the contaminated water or flushing out toxins with a specially designed cleansing solution, but these are limited by difficulties in accurately pinpointing and accessing locations where contamination has occurred, says O'Carroll.

His approach is to tackle toxic contaminants with nanotechnology. O'Carroll, who is visiting UNSW from the University of Western Ontario in Canada, has been trialling an innovative new groundwater clean-up technology using metal nanoparticles 500 to 5,000 times narrower than a human hair.

The iron particles are injected directly into contaminated soil where they flow to the contaminants and initiate a redox reaction, whereby electrons are transferred between the particle and the pollutant. This reaction changes the oxidation state of the pollutant and diminishes its overall toxicity to safer levels, says O'Carroll.

"The tiny scale of these nanoparticles allows them to move through microscopic flow channels in soil and rock to reach and destroy pollutants that larger particles cannot," says O'Carroll.

In addition, iron nanoparticles are particularly safe for use in the environment as they are not very mobile and dissolve quickly, says O'Carroll. This, in fact, is somewhat of a detriment as it limits the nanoparticles' ability to seek out and degrade toxins.

To optimise the nanoparticles, O'Carroll is experimenting with different formations of iron, and encapsulating the particles in a rust-preventing polymer, which slows the dissolution process and increases their mobility, without any adverse environmental impacts.

Two contaminated sites in Ontario have been used for field trials of the novel technology and "significant degradation of the contaminants at both sites has been observed", says O'Carroll, whose research has been featured on David Suzuki's The Nature of Things.

Dr O'Carroll will discuss his research on Tuesday June 5 at Manly Council Chambers at 7pm as part of World Environment Day celebrations. It is free and open to the public but bookings are essential. To book, ring the Manly Environment Centre on 9976 2842 during business hours.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Media Contact:
Dr Denis O’Carroll
0458 366 243


Myles Gough
UNSW Media Office
02 9385 1933

Copyright © University of New South Wales

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2016 Year End Results December 7th, 2016

Journal Nanotechnology Progress International (JONPI), newest edition out December 7th, 2016

Discoveries

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

ANU invention to inspire new night-vision specs December 7th, 2016

Tokyo Institute of Technology research: 3D solutions to energy savings in silicon power transistors December 6th, 2016

Announcements

Scientists track chemical and structural evolution of catalytic nanoparticles in 3-D: Up-close, real-time, chemical-sensitive 3-D imaging offers clues for reducing cost/improving performance of catalysts for fuel-cell-powered vehicles and other applications December 8th, 2016

Exotic insulator may hold clue to key mystery of modern physics: Johns Hopkins-led research shows material living between classical and quantum worlds December 8th, 2016

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2016 Year End Results December 7th, 2016

Journal Nanotechnology Progress International (JONPI), newest edition out December 7th, 2016

Environment

Semiconductor-free microelectronics are now possible, thanks to metamaterials November 9th, 2016

First time physicists observed and quantified tiny nanoparticle crossing lipid membrane November 7th, 2016

Nanosensors on the alert for terrorist threats: Scientists interested in the prospects of gas sensors based on binary metal oxide nanocomposites November 5th, 2016

Marsden minds: Amazing projects revealed November 3rd, 2016

Water

Deep insights from surface reactions: Researchers use Stampede supercomputer to study new chemical sensing methods, desalination and bacterial energy production December 2nd, 2016

Water, water -- the two types of liquid water: Understanding water's behavior could help with Alzheimer's research November 11th, 2016

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years: Targeted medicine deliveries and increased energy efficiency are just two of many ways October 26th, 2016

Water vapor sets some oxides aflutter: Newly discovered phenomenon could affect materials in batteries and water-splitting devices October 3rd, 2016

Events/Classes

Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals to Webcast Fiscal 2016 Year End Results December 7th, 2016

In IEDM 2016 Keynote, Leti CEO Says ‘Hyperconnectivity’, Human-focused Research and the IOT Promise Profound, Positive Changes December 7th, 2016

IEDM: Leti CEO Marie Semeria to Give Opening-day Keynote on Impact of ‘Hyperconnectivity’ and IoT: Speech to Portray Key Role Nonprofit Research and Technology Organizations Play in Making Technology More Efficient and Ensuring Safety and Security November 29th, 2016

Leti and Grenoble Partners Demonstrate World’s 1st Qubit Device Fabricated in CMOS Process: Paper by Leti, Inac and University of Grenoble Alpes Published in Nature Communications November 28th, 2016

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project