Graphene oxide can quickly remove radioactive materials in water

Graphene oxide can quickly remove radioactive materials in water

According to the physicist organization network reported on January 8, researchers at Rice University and Lomonosov University in Moscow, Russia, found that graphene oxide has extraordinary adsorption capacity and can quickly remove radioactive materials in contaminated water bodies. The related research report was published in the recently published "Physical Chemistry · Chemical Physics" of the Royal Society of Chemistry.

Scientists determined that the atomic thickness of graphene oxide flakes can quickly adsorb on natural and artificial radionuclides and condense into a solid. The flakes can be dissolved in liquids and can be easily mass-produced. Graphene oxide will solidify within minutes of importing simulated nuclear waste and quickly accumulate the deadliest toxin waste. This process will also span multiple pH values.

In this study, the researchers mainly worked on removing radioisotopes such as actinides and lanthanides. That is, the 30 rare earth elements in the periodic table are removed from the liquid rather than the solid or gas. Although these isotopes are not hydrophilic, they can be hidden in water. From the perspective of human health and environmental protection, this is the least popular gathering place.

In fact, naturally occurring radionuclides are not very popular because fracturing fluids will bring them to the surface during drilling. When groundwater also flows out of the drilling well and the radioactive elements exceed a certain level, it will not be transported back to the soil due to high temperature. At this time, the contaminated water needs to be transported to other places for storage and treatment, which is accompanied by a large amount of expenditure. The use of graphene oxide can quickly filter radioactive pollutants, significantly reducing the cost of oil and gas recovery methods such as hydraulic fracturing, and is of great benefit in cleaning up polluted water sources in areas such as the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant. In addition, the mining industry will also reap potential benefits. Based on environmental concerns, the United States basically suspended the mining of rare earth metals, which is very important for mobile phone manufacturing.

Although the large surface area of ​​graphene oxide determines its strong ability to adsorb toxins, the rapid absorption rate is still beyond the expectations of researchers. This speed is determined by the composition of the pollutants. In this regard, the scientists tested simulated nuclear waste containing uranium and plutonium, as well as substances such as sodium and calcium that can negatively affect the absorption effect of graphene oxide. Even so, graphene oxide has proven to be significantly more effective than commonly used nuclear scavengers such as bentonite and activated carbon.

The researchers also emphasized that capturing radionuclides does not weaken their radioactivity, but makes them easier to handle. Taking the area near the Fukushima nuclear power plant as an example, graphene oxide can be added to a solution of radioactive material in an ionic state to obtain a solid nuclear material and incinerate it. During this process, graphene oxide will burn rapidly, leaving only radioactive material in bulk, which is easy to reuse. The low cost and biodegradable characteristics also make graphene oxide a suitable choice for permeable reactive wall technology, which is of great significance for the in situ groundwater remediation.

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