Rice, Moscow State universities collaborate on solution to toxic groundwater woes
HOUSTON – (Jan. 8, 2013) – Graphene oxide has a remarkable ability to quickly remove radioactive material from contaminated water, researchers at Rice University and Lomonosov Moscow State University have found.
A collaborative effort by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour and the Moscow lab of chemist Stepan Kalmykov determined that microscopic, atom-thick flakes of graphene oxide bind quickly to natural and human-made radionuclides and condense them into solids. The flakes are soluble in liquids and easily produced in bulk.
The experimental results were reported in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.
The discovery, Tour said, could be a boon in the cleanup of contaminated sites like the Fukushima nuclear plants damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. It could also cut the cost of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) for oil and gas recovery and help reboot American mining of rare earth metals, he said.
Graphene oxide’s large surface area defines its capacity to adsorb toxins, Kalmykov said. “So the high retention properties are not surprising to us,” he said. “What is astonishing is the very fast kinetics of sorption, which is key.”
Read the abstract at http://pubs.rsc.org/en/Content/ArticleLanding/2013/CP/C2CP44593J
See more at: http://news.rice.edu/2013/01/08/another-tiny-miracle-graphene-oxide-soaks-up-radioactive-waste/#sthash.2sM8kKjQ.dpuf