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BER Research Highlights

New Nanoparticle-Based Sorbent Leads to New Approach to Remove Mercury from Solution
Published: February 25, 2008
Posted: March 17, 2008

A 6-page paper on a new nanoparticle-based sorbent and method to remove mercury and other toxic metals from solution has attracted significant attention by becoming one of the most accessed articles in Environmental Science and Technology in 2007. A team of scientists led by Wassana Yantasee from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and collaborators from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand, and the University of Oregon conducted part of their research in the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL), a national scientific user facility located at PNNL. In the paper, Removal of Heavy Metals from Aqueous Systems with Thiol Functionalized Superparamagentic Nanoparticles, the authors describe how they combined superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with dimercaptosuccinic acid (DMSA) to create rust-colored particles that possess a very large surface area (114 m2/g) that results in a very large number of binding sites for mercury and other metals. A strong magnet (1.2 Tesla) was then used to separate the particles from a variety of solutions including river water, groundwater, seawater, human blood and plasma. The DMSA-modified particles removed 30 times more mercury than conventional resin-based sorbents, and they removed 99 percent of lead from a solution containing one milligram per liter of the metal in about a minute. The teams work appeared in the July 15, 2007, issue of Environmental Science and Technology. Additional details regarding these exciting findings are available at: [website].

Contact: Paul Bayer, SC-23.4, (301) 903-5324
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Subsurface Biogeochemical Research
  • Research Area: DOE Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory (EMSL)

Division: SC-33.1 Earth and Environmental Sciences Division, BER
      (formerly SC-23.4 Environmental Remediation Sciences Division, OBER)


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