Ian 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 CeramicsTechToday.com, 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.
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 http://ceramics.org/ceramictechtoday/2012/03/13/cnt-nanobrushes-coated-with-nanocatalysts-show-promise-for-cleaning-polluted-water/ or http://www.innovationnewsdaily.com/807-lego-water-purifier-tiny-particles-big-cleaning-punch.html respectively.
Until soon… Ian