REE World Special Feature: Carbon ‘nanobrushes’ coated with nanocatalysts may clean polluted waters

201102518_ftp-3_250_tcm18-203374Ian London and I are the two original editors of RareMetalBlog, we started January 2009. This weekend, as we celebrate breaking records for visitors on RareMetalBlog and over 5000 original pieces of content on the rare earth industry written by many world class writers, I would like to share Ian's piece he wrote for this last week's REE World Report. Also, in case you haven't been on RareMetalApplications lately, this is  lead by Ian London and the site has had a makeover — anything you want to know on rare earth applications, and more…!

Ian London, Editor for REE World Report, special feature: Today (March 22nd, 2012) is United Nations World Water Day. This year’s theme is “Water and Food Security.”  Apparently, the UN World Water Assessment Program releases a report every three years, and the 4th edition of the United Nations World Water Development Report was recently released in conjunction with the first day of the 6th World Water Forum being held this week in Marseille, France (March 12th)

The report notes that “Surface and groundwater resources in Europe and North America often contain a mix of pollutants, such as nutrients, metals, pesticides, microbes, industrial chemicals and pharmaceutical products, all of which have adverse effects on freshwater ecosystems and human health”. I’m not going to dwell on the issues around water, but there are clearly opportunities for new material science and rare metals to help clean it up. There is not question that the peoples of this good earth need freshwater… some arguing as a human right.

Thanks to Ellen De Guire and, who recently reported on a new water purification tool being developed at Wright State University (Dayton Ohio, USA). This novel technology, championed by Sharmila Mukhopadhvay, Director, Center for Nanoscale Multifunctional Materials and Professor of Mechanical & Materials Engineering at Wright, involves coated carbon nanotube (‘CNT’) devices, comprised of CNTs grown on porous substrates and coated with active nanoparticles. As Mukhoppadhvay describes “It is like a fuzzy nanobrush with extremely high surface area and can be customized to the clean-up job. Nanocatalysts can be attached to these surfaces for breaking up pollutants or facilitating other reactions. For example, silver is an anti-bacterial agent, palladium catalyzes the decomposition of carbon-tetrachloride and titania is a sun-activated photocatalyst… essentially the material’s multifunctionality, may be able to “simultaneously you can combine multiple environmental cleanup applications into one single component.

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In a separate article that appeared on Innovation News Daily story online (Jan 19th), it was noted that very small samples are able to clean quite a bit of water. Apparently at Wright, researchers have made CNT purifiers 2 millimeters by 4 millimeters that can purify a few gallons at a time.

Mukhopadhyay and several industrial partners have secured about $1 million in funding to commercialize the technology.

There are significant efforts and number of novel innovations, including the rarer metals, being directed at cleaning up our world water supplies (also towards not polluting these waters in the first place). For example, in 2010, Molycorp launched our proprietary rare earth-based (cerium) water filtration treatment technology known as XSORBX™. It is purported to be highly effective at 

removing harmful pollutants and other unwanted constituents from water. Its unique chemistry is especially effective at removing pathogens such as: protozoa, fungi, bacteria, and viruses, heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, selenium, chromium and mercury, organic toxins such as pesticides, and pharmaceuticals.

If you’d like to follow-up on the CeramicTechToday or InnovativeNewsToday pieces, just click on or respectively.

Until soon… Ian


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Tracy Weslosky

About Tracy Weslosky

Tracy Weslosky is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of InvestorIntel, a leading global investment intelligence source created for the innovative and entrepreneurial minded that represents over 50 publicly listed companies globally that are listed on Tracy is also the Founder & CEO for ProEdge Media Corp., an online publishing and media production company since 2001; and is the Managing Partner for 724 Capital Corp., a business consulting firm that currently represents U.S. Rare Earths, Inc. Previously she has owned a boutique Investment Banking firm for 7 years that was the basis for a business reality television series called, DealFlow. Aired around the world for 3 years on CNBC World, WealthTV and many other networks globally; Tracy is a speaker, writer and an entrepreneur.
  1. MANY THANKS TO YOU BOTH. and a spcial thanks to MS. WESLOSKY [ a southern lady ]
    for persistance, dedication and skillful staffing to develop a diverse menu of REE foci to attract this audience. as an elder [ long time ] visitor to the menu, i attest to– “… it ain’t been easy “.

  2. This could well become the most significant application of a new technology as the access to clean drinking water is the most underreported problem accoss the planet.

  3. You don’t need REE to produce clean water, the idea smacks of an expensive scam, simply add very small traces of cheap, inexpensive (and sometimes free) chlorine Dioxide.
    Chlorine dioxide ion (CLO2) has been FDA approved to treat water and wash raw poultry, meat and fish while processing. It is said to kill 98% to 100% of pathogens in water treatment systems and in processing plants.
    Chloring dioxide is already used to disinfect the municipal water supplies in most Western Countries.

  4. Mosaic,
    There are detrimental things in the water that chlorine does not affect. Even distilling water can retain high levels of volatiles that may have to be stripped out by nother process. Some of the best examples of heavy pollution contamination are found in the mountain lakes and glaciers, formerly believed to be the most pristine reserves of pure fresh water. This is a world wide problem that will require new technologies to correct the problems that our new technologies have caused.

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