Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Graphene Oxide Soaks Up Radioactive Waste

Published: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Rice, Moscow State universities collaborate on solution to toxic groundwater woes.

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.”

“In the probabilistic world of chemical reactions where scarce stuff (low concentrations) infrequently bumps into something with which it can react, there is a greater likelihood that the ‘magic’ will happen with graphene oxide than with a big old hunk of bentonite,” said Steven Winston, a former vice president of Lockheed Martin and Parsons Engineering and an expert in nuclear power and remediation who is working with the researchers. “In short, fast is good.”

Determining how fast was the object of experiments by the Kalmykov group. The lab tested graphene oxide synthesized at Rice with simulated nuclear wastes containing uranium, plutonium and substances like sodium and calcium that could negatively affect their adsorption. Even so, graphene oxide proved far better than the bentonite clays and granulated activated carbon commonly used in nuclear cleanup.

Graphene oxide introduced to simulated wastes coagulated within minutes, quickly clumping the worst toxins, Kalmykov said. The process worked across a range of pH values.

“To see Stepan’s amazement at how well this worked was a good confirmation,” Tour said. He noted that the collaboration took root when Alexander Slesarev, a graduate student in his group, and Anna Yu. Romanchuk, a graduate student in Kalmykov’s group, met at a conference several years ago.

The researchers focused on removing radioactive isotopes of the actinides and lanthanides – the 30 rare earth elements in the periodic table – from liquids, rather than solids or gases. “Though they don’t really like water all that much, they can and do hide out there,” Winston said. “From a human health and environment point of view, that’s where they’re least welcome.”

Naturally occurring radionuclides are also unwelcome in fracking fluids that bring them to the surface in drilling operations, Tour said. “When groundwater comes out of a well and it’s radioactive above a certain level, they can’t put it back into the ground,” he said. “It’s too hot. Companies have to ship contaminated water to repository sites around the country at very large expense.” The ability to quickly filter out contaminants on-site would save a great deal of money, he said.

He sees even greater potential benefits for the mining industry. Environmental requirements have “essentially shut down U.S. mining of rare earth metals, which are needed for cell phones,” Tour said. “China owns the market because they’re not subject to the same environmental standards. So if this technology offers the chance to revive mining here, it could be huge.”

Tour said that capturing radionuclides does not make them less radioactive, just easier to handle. “Where you have huge pools of radioactive material, like at Fukushima, you add graphene oxide and get back a solid material from what were just ions in a solution,” he said. “Then you can skim it off and burn it. Graphene oxide burns very rapidly and leaves a cake of radioactive material you can then reuse.”

The low cost and biodegradable qualities of graphene oxide should make it appropriate for use in permeable reactive barriers, a fairly new technology for in situ groundwater remediation, he said.

Romanchuk, Slesarev, Kalmykov and Tour are co-authors of the paper with Dmitry Kosynkin, a former postdoctoral researcher at Rice, now with Saudi Aramco. Kalmykov is radiochemistry division head and a professor at Lomonosov Moscow State University. Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and of computer science at Rice.

The Office of Naval Research Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative, M-I SWACO and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research funded work at Rice. The Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation, a Russian Federation President stipend to Romanchuk and the Russian Basic Research Foundation funded research at Moscow State.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,200+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,700+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

‘Missing Tooth’ Hydrogels Handle Hard-to-Deliver Drugs
Rice University’s custom hydrogel traps water-avoiding molecules for slow delivery.
Wednesday, June 08, 2016
New Cancer Fighters Emerge From Lab
Rice University lab simplifies total synthesis of anti-cancer agent.
Wednesday, May 25, 2016
Cancer Cells Coordinate to Form Roving Clusters
Rice University scientists identify ‘smoking gun’ in metastasis of hybrid cells.
Friday, May 20, 2016
Monovar Drills Down Into Cancer Genome
Rice, MD Anderson develop program to ID mutations in single cancer cells.
Wednesday, May 04, 2016
It’s Now Easier To Go With The Flow
Rice University tool simplifies comparison of flow cytometry data for laboratories.
Wednesday, May 04, 2016
Magnetic Nanoparticles May Reveal Early Traces Of Cancer
Rice University students’ computer program aids MD Anderson diagnostic initiative .
Friday, April 29, 2016
Rare DNA Will Have Nowhere To Hide
Two National Institutes of Health grants back Rice University effort to develop new diagnostics.
Friday, April 08, 2016
Scientists Synthesize Anti-Cancer Agent
A team led by Rice University synthetic organic chemist K.C. Nicolaou has developed a new process for the synthesis of a series of potent anti-cancer agents originally found in bacteria.
Monday, March 14, 2016
‘Big Data’ Drills Down Into Metabolic Details
Rice University bioengineers introduce efficient way to analyze, compare tissue-specific pathways.
Monday, March 14, 2016
Cancer Cells’ Evasive Action Revealed
Rice, MD Anderson scientists analyze suppression of proteins key to immune recognition.
Friday, March 04, 2016
DNA Analysis in the Fast Lane
Rice bioengineers' method should lead to better database of thermal behaviors.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
Bacteria Attack Lignin with Enzymatic Tag Team
Team from Rice, University of Wisconsin-Madison shows how nature handles lignin.
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Obstacles Not Always a Hindrance to Proteins
Rice researchers’ theory finds blocked path sometimes speeds DNA sequence search.
Friday, December 11, 2015
Red Means ‘Go’ to Therapeutic Viruses
Rice University scientists use light to switch viral activity and deliver cargoes to cells.
Thursday, December 03, 2015
Chemical Design Made Easier
Rice University scientists prepare elusive organocatalysts for drug and fine chemical synthesis.
Wednesday, November 25, 2015
Scientific News
Open Source Seed Initiative – A Welcome Boost to Global Crop Breeding
A team of plant breeders, farmers, non-profit agencies, seed advocates, and policymakers have created the Open Source Seed Initiative.
ASMS 2016: Targeting Mass Spectrometry Tools for the Masses
The expanding application range of MS in life sciences, food, energy, and health sciences research was highlighted at this year's ASMS meeting in San Antonio, Texas.
A New Way Out for Stem Cells
Researchers at North Carolina State University have discovered that therapeutic stem cells exit the bloodstream in a different manner than was previously thought.
One Giant Leap for the Future of Safe Drug Delivery
Sheffield engineers make major breakthrough in developing silk ‘micro-rockets’ that can be used safely in biological environments.
Designing Potential AIDS Vaccine Candidates
Findings represent ‘big accomplishment’ in biomedical engineering and design.
Anticancer Drug Stops Ebola Virus Molecule in its Tracks
A team of scientists from the University of Oxford have successfully mapped the structure of the Ebola virus molecule that drives the attack strategy and leads to fatal infections in humans.
Assessing the Effectiveness of Genome-Editing Technologies
Researchers have developed a cost-effective and rapid method for assessing edits generated by CRISPR-Cas9 and other genome-editing technologies.
Anthrax Proteins Might Help Treat Cancerous Tumors
Studies in mice reveal novel treatment regimen.
New Cancer Drug Target Found in Dual-Function Protein
Findings from a study from TSRI have shown that targeting a protein called GlyRS might help to halt cancer growth.
Key to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome is in Your Gut, Not Head
Researchers report they have identified biological markers of the disease in gut bacteria and inflammatory microbial agents in the blood.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,200+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,700+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!