Worlds First Intelligent Absorbent For Radioactive Contaminants

The worlds first intelligent absorbent for radioactive contaminants has been created at the Queensland University of Technology in Australia. The material uses titanate nanofiber and nanotube technology.


(Titanate nanofiber and nanotube technology)

Professor Huai-Yong Zhu from QUT Chemistry said the world-first intelligent absorbent, which uses titanate nanofibre and nanotube technology, differed from current clean-up methods, such as layered clays and zeolites, because it could efficiently lock in deadly radioactive material from contaminated water.

The used absorbents can then be safely disposed without the risk of leakage, even if the material became wet.

"One gram of the nanofibres can effectively purify at least one tonne of polluted water," Professor Zhu said.

"This saves large amounts of dangerous water needing to be stored somewhere and also prevents the risk of contaminated products leaking into the soil."

The technology, which was developed in collaboration with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and Pennsylvania State University in America, works by running the contaminated water through the fine nanotubes and fibres, which trap the radioactive Cesium (Cs+) ions through a structural change.

By adding silver oxide nanocrystals to the outer surface, the nanostructures are able to capture and immobilise radioactive iodine (I-) ions used in treatments for thyroid cancer, in probes and markers for medical diagnosis, as well as found in leaks of nuclear accidents.

Fans of the manga and anime series Ghost in the Shell have seen this material presaged in a technology referred to as the Japanese Miracle. It consists of nanomachines that can eliminate nuclear fallout; however, the Japanese Miracle has to be distributed before a blast occurs to work effectively.

Update: John W. Campbell offered sf readers an introduction to the idea of decontamination; see the quote for Dekon from John W. Campbell's 1965 classic Subspace Explorers.

Thanks to Winchell Chung for reminding me about this item, which he contributed years ago; see his effects of radiation page of science fiction / science fact references for more information. End update.

From Queensland University of Technology; thanks to an anonymous reader for submitting this story and reference.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 10/27/2011)

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