New method extracts radioactive elements from air and water
London: Scientists have successfully tested a material that can extract atoms of rare or dangerous radioactive elements such as radon from air.
Gases such as radon, xenon and krypton all occur naturally in the air but in minute quantities - typically less than one part per million.
As a result they are expensive to extract for use in industries such as lighting or medicine and, in the case of radon, the gas can accumulate in buildings.
In the US alone, radon accounts for around 21,000 lung cancer deaths a year.
Previous methods for extracting these elements have involved cryogenic technology, which is energy intensive and expensive.
But now, the chemists from the University of Liverpool alongside colleagues at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, US have used an `organic cage molecule` called CC3 to separate krypton, radon and xenon from air at concentrations of only a few parts per million.
"If you imagine sorting marbles then you see the problem with sorting these atoms. They are round in shape and of a similar size, not to mention that only one marble in every million is the one you are looking for," Professor Andy Cooper, who led the study said.
CC3 which was developed in Liverpool is a molecule that is made up of cavities, or cages, into which gas molecules such as xenon and radon fit very precisely.
By a process of adsorption - where molecules or atoms stick onto the surface - the right gas molecules are held in place, while others such as water or nitrogen are released.
Tests using columns packed with CC3 crystals have produced results far superior to the current best materials and this raises the possibility that CC3 could be used for commercial processes, for example in the clean-up of nuclear waste or in the adsorption and detection of radon gas in homes.
Further studies show that CC3 also has potential in the pharmaceutical industry, which uses molecules as feed-stocks in the production of drugs, and where these molecular feed-stocks need to be separated from other closely related molecules.
"This material could solve commercial problems associated with the extraction of rare gases or other molecules from very dilute mixtures. The key is to design exactly the right fit between the cavity and the molecule that you want to capture," Cooper said.
The research was published in the journal Nature Materials.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- China condemns Pakistan over Uri terror attack
- Indian- Americans launch online petition to declare Pakistan 'sponsor of terrorism'
- DNA: Analysis over who is responsible for tense condition of Kashmir after Burhan Wani's death?
- Should Pakistani artists be restricted from working in India?
- Congress workers thrash students for showing black flags to Rahul Gandhi in Raebareli
- Onam Bumper Lottery/Kerala Thiruvonam Bumper-2016 BR-51 draw result declared - Here is the winning ticket number
- Uri attack: Israel ready to help India with cutting-edge technology to secure borders
- India's Rafale vs Pakistan's F-16: Why the French fighter jet is the best choice for dogfight
- MNS ultimatum to Pakistani actors: Leave India in 48-hour deadline
- All you need to know about Reliance JioFi at Rs 1,999 – use free data till December 31