Astronomy

Biology

Chemistry

Computer Science

Earth Science

Engineering

Math

Medical

Microbiology

Neuroscience

Optics

Social Science

Physics

*****

Español

Sign-up for FTK Bulletin

Chemistry
  

Radioactive Water: Tea Bags To The Rescue

RALEIGH, N.C (Ivanhoe Newswire) –It has been five months since a deadly earthquake hit Japan, creating a nuclear disaster of frightening proportions. Within days, the water was contaminated with radioactive iodide, a contaminant that can present a serious health risk. Now, scientists here in the U.S believe they’ve found a new way to remove, not just radiation, but other potentially hazardous contaminants to make sure water is safe to drink.

Janet Chadwick never goes out for a hike without her water. But it’s not straight out of the tap. She filters every drop.

“There’s multiple organisms that are in the water, different minerals that we don’t want an abundance of,” Janet Chadwick, a woman who filters her own water, told Ivanhoe.

We count on our tap water to be clean and safe to drink, but contamination is a continuing concern.

“It’s definitely an environmental issue I mean across the world,” Chadwick said.

The earthquake in Japan raised an even bigger issue-- radioactivity. But NC State physicist, Dr. Joel Pawlak may have the solution: biodegradable foam. It works like a gooey sponge to pull salt, heavy metals and even radioactive materials like potassium iodide that don’t dissolve out of water.

“And we really think it’ll work for a lot of the other ions that are created from the nuclear reaction,” Joel Pawlak, Ph.D., a paper physicist at NC State University told Ivanhoe.

The foam is made from combination of hemicellulose, a by-product of the wood pulp industry, and chitosan that is typically found in crushed crustacean or crab shells. The material can be functionalized to remove contaminants.

“The material itself isn’t selective for radioactive materials, what it’s actually doing is taking out dissolved ions inside,” Dr. Pawlak said.

In a disaster, it could be as simple to use as a tea bag.

“You take a cup of water, place your tea bag into the water and it’ll remove the salt from the water, it’ll remove the heavy metal from the water, and hopefully it’ll remove that radioactivity from the water as well,” Pawlak explained.

One liter of the foam can turn a hundred liters of contaminated water into safe drinking water. It’s physics and material science that could save lives. The foam may also offer a new option for turning salt water into water that’s safe to drink. Funding for this research comes from several sources, including the U.S Department of Energy.

The Materials Research Society and the American Physical Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science and View Video or contact:

Joel Pawlak, PhD
Paper Physicist
Forest Biomaterials
Associate Professor
North Carolina State University
joel_pawlak@ncsu.edu


This Month's TV Reports
Future Of Farming—Indoors And In The City

Vertical farms are a growing trend that’s turning old abandoned buildings into urban farms. We’ll take you inside and show you the new farm that’s producing crops and livestock indoors.

 

People Power: Turning Body Heat Into Energy

Move over coal, oil, solar, electric and natural gas … it’s time for some people power! Take your viewers inside the first building in the world to use the heat generated by people to power the building next door.

 

Saving Children: Surgery Corrects Spina Bifida Before Birth

Spina Bifida is one of the most common birth defects of the central nervous system. Now doctors are performing surgery even before birth to help these babies grow up to be active adults.

 

Growing Legs With ISKD

Imagine living life a little off balance—literally! Thousands of people have one leg longer than the other. A new device is helping to lengthen legs and get these people moving again.

 

Pay Attention! What Are You Doing While Driving?

Eighty-percent of all car crashes involve some form of distracted driving … but it’s not just cell phones that are to blame.

 

Tracking Oil Spills & Preventing Future Disasters

We are still cleaning up from the worst oil spill in U.S. history. Now, scientists have developed a new way to predict where oil will spread before a disaster happens.

 

Radioactive Water: Tea Bags To The Rescue?

It’s been months since the deadly earthquake rocked Japan, creating a nuclear disaster. It could be decades before all the radioactive waste is cleaned up. We’ll show you how tea bags with a twist could help.

 

Stroke—Is Your Family To Blame?

We all know our everyday habits can increase our risk of a stroke … but what role does our DNA play? Doctors around the world are working together to find out.

 

Listen Up! Hearing Loss Causes Dementia?

Two-thirds of all older Americans suffer from hearing loss. But hearing loss could lead to more than just lost words…it could lead to lost minds.

 

Treating Tremors With An Ultrasound

Millions of people suffer from tremors. A breakthrough procedure could stop the shaking without going under the knife.

 

World’s Smallest Microscope Focuses In On Cancer

New technology is giving surgeons the ability to not only detect cancer earlier, but also immediately treat it.

 

Super Soaker: Life-Saving Gauze

A police officer is shot in the line of duty nine times and you won’t believe what helped to save his life! What worked for him could save millions of other lives from the street to the combat zone.

 

Prior Reports
A joint production of Ivanhoe Broadcast News and the American Institute of Physics.
  Ivanhoe Broadcast News
2745 West Fairbanks Avenue
Winter Park, Florida 32789
(407) 740-0789
http://www.ivanhoe.com

American Institute of Physics
One Physics Ellipse
College Park, MD 19740-3843
(301) 209-3100
http://www.aip.org/dbis
  P.O. Box 865
Orlando, Florida 32802
scitech@ivanhoe.com
 
  © 2011 Ivanhoe Broadcast News, Inc.  
DBIS