Researchers of a Swedish university have developed an approach to clean water contaminated with toxic mercury, which causes damage to environment and health, according to water-technology.net.
This chemical element spreads easily through nature, and can find its way into the food chain. For example, freshwater fish usually contains high levels of mercury.
Mercury can affect nervous system, brain development, etc.
Sweden’s Chalmers University of Technology researcher Bjorn Wickman was quoted by PTI as saying: “Our new method makes it possible to reduce the mercury content in a liquid by more than 99 per cent. This can bring the water well within the margins for safe human consumption.”
The approach, which has been detailed in the Nature Communications journal, involves extraction of heavy metal ions from water by encouraging them to bind with another metal.
Wickman added: “Today, cleaning away the low, yet harmful, levels of mercury from large amounts of water is a major challenge. Industries need better methods to reduce the risk of mercury being released in nature.”
This new approach involves a metal plate made of platinum. This metal plate serves as an electrode that attracts heavy metals. An electrochemical process draws out the toxic mercury out of the water, which then forms an alloy of the two. This alloy is stable, thereby preventing mercury from re-entering into water.
Chalmers researcher Cristian Tunsu said: “An alloy of this type has been made before, but with a totally different purpose in mind. This is the first time the technique with electrochemical alloying has been used for decontamination purposes.”