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Thursday, 8 January 2009

Rust cleans up pollution_From the previous post of Top 100 Materials Science Stories - My biased choice - "Got Pollution? Get Rust from 2003"

1,000-square-foot plot at a pharmaceutical plant in North Carolina using just $1,000 in raw materials has been decontaminated by Wei-Xian Zhang, an environmental engineer at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania.

The scientific methode : 20 pounds of iron nanoparticles—superfine iron dust.

As iron rusts, it unleashes electrons that can break down organic pollutants such as dioxins, PCBs, and many pesticides. By growing iron atoms into incredibly small particles, Zhang increases the number of electrons they release as much as 1,000-fold. He then mixes the ultrafine powder with water so it can be pumped into the ground. A few days after injecting the iron powder into contaminated land, all that is left behind are simple, nontoxic hydrocarbons. The iron dust eventually dissolves harmlessly into the groundwater. Early next year, Zhang plans a larger test, treating a 100-acre site in North Carolina. He is also developing a commercial version of the process.

Since this work was reported in 2003, more results and the success or failure to reach the original expectations must be known. Looking forward to up-dating this advanced metallurgical chemical and biochemical engineering interdisciplinary work.

It goes without saying that both I and Discover Magazine would be pleased to learn of readers top pick, cf Full List Link below.


1. Got Pollution? Get Rust reported by Kathy A. Svitil was published online December 3, 2003

2 Full Materials Science List 1993 to Date_Link

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