Illustration for article titled One capsule could make radioactive liquids potable

In the wake of last year's disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the world is once again dealing with contamination from a nuclear catastrophe. Now researchers have repurposed mining technology into a capsule that could make radiation tainted water drinkable.

Dr Allen Apblett's research with Oklahoma State University in Stillwater has been presented at this Spring's ACS meeting, and it could be adapted to every scale, from individual to industrial. It's an adaptation of mining technology designed to draw valuable uranium out of sea-water, but it can work for other materials, too.


The technique uses metal oxide nanoparticles which bond to a number of chemicals, removing them from the liquid. They've been shown to absorb all of the radioactive actinides: actinium, thorium, protactinium, uranium, neptunium, plutonium, americium, curium, berkelium, californium, einsteinium, fermium, mendelevium, nobelium and lawrencium; as well as strontium, lead, arsenic, and radioactive and non-radioactive elements.

In its simplest form, this would just be a capsule that would be dropped in container of water, juice, or milk, stirred, and then extracted, taking the dangerous elements along with it. What's not exactly clear at this point is how many times a single capsule would be able to be reused, or if there is a way to empty it once full. Even so, it would be something small and easy enough to be used by just about anyone. The technology could also theoretically be scaled up to an industrial level, allowing for large scale removing of contaminated foodstuffs.

Top image: Lana K/Shutterstock

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