Australian scientists develop nanotechnology to purify water


Scientists in Australia have developed a ground-breaking new way to strip impurities from waste water, with the research set to have massive applications for a number of industries.

Scientists in Australia have developed a ground-breaking new way to strip impurities from waste water, with the research set to have massive applications for a number of industries.

By using a new type of crystalline alloy, researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU) are able to extract the contaminants and pollutants that often end up in water during industrial processing.

“Mining and textile production produces huge amounts of waste water that is contaminated with heavy metals and dyes,” lead researcher Associate Professor Laichang Zhang from ECU’s School of Engineering technology said in a statement on Friday.

Although it is already possible to treat waste water with iron powder, according to Zhang, the cost is very high.

“Firstly, using iron powder leaves you with a large amount of iron sludge that must be stored and secondly it is expensive to produce and can only be used once,” he explained.

We can produce enough crystalline alloy to treat one tonne of waste water for just 15 Australian Dollars (10.8 US dollars), additionally, we can reuse the crystalline alloy up to five times while still maintaining its effectiveness.” Based on his previous work with “metal glass,” Zhang updated the nanotechnology to make it more effective.

“Whereas metallic glasses have a disordered atomic structure, the crystalline alloy we have developed has a more ordered atomic structure,” he said.

“We produced the crystalline alloy by heating metallic glass in a specific way.””This modifies the structure, allowing the electrons in the crystalline alloy to move more freely, thereby improving its ability to bind with dye molecules or heavy metals leaving behind usable water.”Zhang said he will continue to expand his research with industry partners to further improve the technology.

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Update: Australia’s CSIRO – Tiny (graphene) membrane key to safe drinking water for billions of people around the World


Sydney-harbour

Sydney’s iconic harbour has played a starring role in the development of new CSIRO technology that could save lives around the world.

Using their own specially designed form of graphene, ‘Graphair’, CSIRO scientists have supercharged water purification, making it simpler, more effective and quicker.

The new filtering technique is so effective, water samples from Sydney Harbour were safe to drink after passing through the filter.

The breakthrough research was published today in Nature Communications.

“Almost a third of the world’s population, some 2.1 billion people, don’t have clean and safe drinking water,” the paper’s lead author, CSIRO scientist Dr Dong Han Seo said. CSIRO Membrane download

“As a result, millions — mostly children — die from diseases associated with inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene every year.

“In Graphair we’ve found a perfect filter for water purification. It can replace the complex, time consuming and multi-stage processes currently needed with a single step.”

While graphene is the world’s strongest material and can be just a single carbon atom thin, it is usually water repellent.

Using their Graphair process, CSIRO researchers were able to create a film with microscopic nano-channels that let water pass through, but stop pollutants.

As an added advantage Graphair is simpler, cheaper, faster and more environmentally friendly than graphene to make.

It consists of renewable soybean oil, more commonly found in vegetable oil.

Looking for a challenge, Dr Seo and his colleagues took water samples from Sydney Harbour and ran it through a commercially available water filter, coated with Graphair.

Researchers from QUT, the University of Sydney, UTS, and Victoria University then tested and analysed its water purification qualities.

The breakthrough potentially solves one of the great problems with current water filtering methods: fouling.

Over time chemical and oil based pollutants coat and impede water filters, meaning contaminants have to be removed before filtering can begin. Tests showed Graphair continued to work even when coated with pollutants.

Without Graphair, the membrane’s filtration rate halved in 72 hours.

When the Graphair was added, the membrane filtered even more contaminants (99 per cent removal) faster.

“This technology can create clean drinking water, regardless of how dirty it is, in a single step,” Dr Seo said.

“All that’s needed is heat, our graphene, a membrane filter and a small water pump. We’re hoping to commence field trials in a developing world community next year.”

CSIRO image-20160204-3020-1rpo9r8CSIRO is looking for industry partners to scale up the technology so it can be used to filter a home or even town’s water supply.

It’s also investigating other applications such as the treatment of seawater and industrial effluents.

 

Story Source:

Materials provided by CSIRO AustraliaNote: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Dong Han Seo, Shafique Pineda, Yun Chul Woo, Ming Xie, Adrian T. Murdock, Elisa Y. M. Ang, Yalong Jiao, Myoung Jun Park, Sung Il Lim, Malcolm Lawn, Fabricio Frizera Borghi, Zhao Jun Han, Stephen Gray, Graeme Millar, Aijun Du, Ho Kyong Shon, Teng Yong Ng, Kostya Ostrikov. Anti-fouling graphene-based membranes for effective water desalinationNature Communications, 2018; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-018-02871-3

No More Washing: Nano- Enabled Textiles Clean Themselves with Light


nomorewashing 041216

A spot of sunshine is all it could take to get your washing done, thanks to pioneering nano research into self-cleaning textiles.

Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a cheap and efficient new way to grow special —which can degrade organic matter when exposed to light—directly onto .

The work paves the way towards nano-enhanced textiles that can spontaneously clean themselves of stains and grime simply by being put under a light bulb or worn out in the sun.

Dr Rajesh Ramanathan said the process developed by the team had a variety of applications for catalysis-based industries such as agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and natural products, and could be easily scaled up to industrial levels.

“The advantage of textiles is they already have a 3D structure so they are great at absorbing light, which in turn speeds up the process of degrading organic matter,” he said.

“There’s more work to do to before we can start throwing out our washing machines, but this advance lays a strong foundation for the future development of fully self-cleaning textiles.”

The researchers from the Ian Potter NanoBioSensing Facility and NanoBiotechnology Research Lab at RMIT worked with copper and silver-based nanostructures, which are known for their ability to absorb visible light.

No more washing: Nano-enhanced textiles clean themselves with light
The red color indicates the presence of silver nanoparticles — the total coverage on the image shows the nanostructures grown by the RMIT team are present throughout the textile. Image magnified 200 times. Credit: RMIT University

When the nanostructures are exposed to light, they receive an energy boost that creates ““. These “hot electrons” release a burst of energy that enables the nanostructures to degrade organic matter.

The challenge for researchers has been to bring the concept out of the lab by working out how to build these nanostructures on an industrial scale and permanently attach them to textiles.

The RMIT team’s novel approach was to grow the nanostructures directly onto the textiles by dipping them into a few solutions, resulting in the development of stable nanostructures within 30 minutes.

No more washing: Nano-enhanced textiles clean themselves with light
Close-up of the nanostructures grown on cotton textiles by RMIT University researchers. Image magnified 150,000 times. Credit: RMIT University

When exposed to , it took less than six minutes for some of the nano-enhanced textiles to spontaneously clean themselves.

“Our next step will be to test our nano-enhanced textiles with organic compounds that could be more relevant to consumers, to see how quickly they can handle common stains like tomato sauce or wine,” Ramanathan said.

The research is published on March 23, 2016 in the high-impact journal Advanced Materials Interfaces.

Explore further: Silver in the washing machine: Nanocoatings release almost no nanoparticles

More information: Samuel R. Anderson et al. Robust Nanostructured Silver and Copper Fabrics with Localized Surface Plasmon Resonance Property for Effective Visible Light Induced Reductive Catalysis, Advanced Materials Interfaces (2016). DOI: 10.1002/admi.201500632

 

 

Nanocones from “Down Under” ~ Boost Solar Cell Efficiency by 15 percent


Nano Cones 56f91c4556dea

A team of scientists at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia has announced the development of a nanostructure material made of what they are calling nanocones—it is a type of nanomaterial that can be added to boost the efficiency of photovoltaics by increasing their light absorbing abilities. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the team describes the new material, how it works, and their hopes for its use in a wide variety of photovoltaic applications.

The new cone structured material’s positive attributes come about due to an ultrahigh refractive index—each cone is made of a type of material that acts inside as an insulator and outside as a conductor—under a microscope the material looks like a mass of bullets stood up on end atop a flat base. It, like other topological insulators, exploits oscillations that occur as a result of changes in the concentration of electrons that come about when the material is struck by photons. Each cone has a metal shell coating and a core that is based on a dielectric—a material made with them would be able to provide superior light absorption properties, making it ideal for not just solar cells, but a wide variety of ranging from optical fibers to waveguides and even lenses. The researchers suggest that if such a material were to be used as part of a traditional thin-film solar cell, it could increase light absorption by up to 15 percent in both the visible and ultraviolet range.

In interviews with the press, the researchers pointed out that theirs is the first time that such a nanocone structure has been created and perhaps just as importantly, noted that creating them would not require any new fabrication techniques. Also, they suggested that because of the better properties of the new material, “both the short circuit current and photoelectric conversion efficiency could be enhanced.”16-CNT Dye Solar Cells figure1

The researchers also note that unlike other nanostructures the oscillations generated by the nanocones are polarization insensitive, which means they do not have to be directionally perpendicular to nanoslits making them more useful in a wider array of applications because they can be directly integrated into current hardware. They add that they next plan to shift their efforts towards focusing on plasmonics that occur in other sorts of structures with different types of shapes.

Explore further: Nanocones could be key to making inexpensive solar cells

More information: Z. Yue et al. Intrinsically core-shell plasmonic dielectric nanostructures with ultrahigh refractive index, Science Advances (2016). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501536

Abstract
Topological insulators are a new class of quantum materials with metallic (edge) surface states and insulating bulk states. They demonstrate a variety of novel electronic and optical properties, which make them highly promising electronic, spintronic, and optoelectronic materials. We report on a novel conic plasmonic nanostructure that is made of bulk-insulating topological insulators and has an intrinsic core-shell formation. The insulating (dielectric) core of the nanocone displays an ultrahigh refractive index of up to 5.5 in the near-infrared frequency range. On the metallic shell, plasmonic response and strong backward light scattering were observed in the visible frequency range. Through integrating the nanocone arrays into a-Si thin film solar cells, up to 15% enhancement of light absorption was predicted in the ultraviolet and visible ranges. With these unique features, the intrinsically core-shell plasmonic nanostructure paves a new way for designing low-loss and high-performance visible to infrared optical devices.

 

Wastewater technology to assist nuclear clean-up


Wastewater technology to assist nuclear clean-up

The Virtual Curtain technology can turn toxic wastewater into near rainwater quality. Image: The nuclear power station at Chernobyl, Ukraine. Credit: Timm Seuss

West Australian researchers have developed an advanced water decontamination process that turns toxic wastewater into near rainwater quality and which they believe could help Japan in its extensive clean-up of nuclear contaminated waters.

CSIRO scientist Grant Douglas visited the country in September and with assistance from Austrade has submitted a proposal to use CSIRO’s Virtual Curtain technology for widespread remediation work in Japan, estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

He says water tanks, flooded buildings and basements in Fukushima remain highly contaminated after the meltdown of the power plant nuclear reactors in 2011.

“They need to clean those up and that’s proving difficult because they have such a wide range of contaminants,” Dr Douglas says.

“They can’t generally employ one technique—they need multiple ones, whereas our technology has the advantage that it can clean up a lot of contaminants in one step.”

Dr Douglas says the first full scale application of the technology in Australia began in late September at a toxic mine site in Queensland.

“This is a severe environmental liability at the moment; what we’ll be doing is treating water that’s highly acidic and full of all sorts of toxic metals metalloids, arsenic and other things,” he says.

“The water we produce from that is virtually drinking-quality except for the salt level.

“That is then going through a reverse osmosis plant to remove the salt and that effluent – which will be released into a river – is actually going to be better quality than is now in the river. It’ll be like rainwater.”

The Virtual Curtain technology is patented by CSIRO and made commercial through the company Virtual Curtain Limited.

It uses hydrotalcites; layered minerals consisting of aluminium and magnesium-rich-layers, separated by interlayers of anions (negatively charged molecules like sulphate).

During the process the aluminium and magnesium can be replaced by a range of other metals like copper and lead as the hydotalcites form. The metals and anions are then trapped and easily removed from wastewater as a solid.

Dr Douglas says lime has been used traditionally to decontaminate wastewater but among its drawbacks it requires a number of complex steps and produces enormous amounts of sludge.

“The technique I have produces just 10 per cent or less of the sludge that lime does which is then far more concentrated as a result, and has potential to turn what was back into an ore; they can re-mine it.”

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2013-11-wastewater-technology-nuclear-clean-up.html#jCp

Australia Snaps Up Locally Made Nanotechnology Instrument


21 October 2013

Australia Snaps Up Locally Made Nanotechnology Instrument

Nanotubes imagesCrown Research Institute GNS Science has beat off competition from Europe and the United States to supply a nanotechnology fabrication machine to the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) in Sydney.

Known as an ion implanter, it is being shipped to Sydney this week in a container.

When installed at ANSTO’s facility at Lucas Heights on the outskirts of Sydney, it will be used to make advanced materials for use in hi-tech industries. ANSTO is the headquarters for Australia’s nuclear science expertise.

The instrument will implant charged atoms into the surface of materials by accelerating them at various energy levels. This gives the implanted material a range of desired properties such as super-hardness, ultra-smoothness, improved electrical conductivity, and greater corrosion resistance.

Potential applications for these ‘new’ materials include industries such as medicine, agriculture, manufacturing, energy production, and transport.

Leader of GNS Science’s Ion Beam Technology Group, Andreas Markwitz, said this was the largest single project his group had undertaken in its 15-year history.

The instrument, measuring 3m by 2m when assembled, was designed and built at GNS Science in Lower Hutt. The only outside component was a 2.4 tonne electro-magnet built by Buckley Systems Ltd in Auckland.

“There are probably fewer than 10 companies in the world that could build an ion implanter such as this from scratch,” Dr Markwitz said.

“This will open the door to other lucrative offshore work and we are already looking at the possibility of supplying a similar instrument to India.”

The ANSTO deal was particularly attractive because it allowed GNS Science to book time on the implanter in Sydney to further its research and development in nanotechnology.

“We already operate three in-house-built implanters in our Lower Hutt facility, and this new one offers a few extra capabilities. It’s the best implanter we have ever built.”

GNS Science had learnt a lot during the project which would help it to offer better science and consultancy services in nanotechnology in the future.

Dr Markwitz believed there were several reasons GNS Science won the contract ahead of US and European companies.

“We have developed a good relationship with ANSTO over many years and they are aware of our expertise in building and operating ion implanters.

“Our package was pretty competitive and it had everything ANSTO was looking for – high performance, low maintenance, reliability, ease of use, and a competitive price.”

The strength of the GNS Science brand in Australia had also helped, Dr Markwitz said.

“It’s a good feeling when Australia looks to us to provide part of its nuclear science infrastructure.”

RMIT University, Australia:The Formation of Nanofins from Magnetic Nanoparticles: Video


Printing Graphene ChipsPublished on Oct  2, 2013

Heat has become one of the most critical issues in computer and semiconductor design: The ever increasing number of transistors in computer chips requires more efficient cooling approaches for the hot spots which are generated as a result of the operation of the transistors. Researchers at RMIT University in Australia have demonstrated a microfluidic technique of using thermally conductive and magnetic chromium oxide nanoparticles that can form low-dimensional fins in the vicinity of hot spots.

Read more at http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spo…

Watch the Video Here:

New graphene-based super-capacitors last as long as lead-acid batteries


3adb215 D BurrisResearcher from Australia‘s Monash University developed new graphene-based supercapacitors that feature high energy density – in fact about 12 times higher than commercially available capacitors. These supercapacitors last as long as a conventional battery (lead-acid).

 

 

 

The researchers used an adaptive graphene gel film, developed at Monash in 2012. They used liquid electrolytes to control the spacing between graphene sheets on the sub-nanometre scale. Those electrolytes played a dual role: maintaining the minute space between the graphene sheets and conducting electricity. In this new electrode design, the density is maximized without compromising porosity.

The researchers say that the production process is simple and can be scaled-up cost-effectively.

Source: Monash University

 

Another nanotechnology milestone by NASA engineers (w/video)


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8(Nanowerk News) A NASA engineer has achieved yet  another milestone in his quest to advance an emerging super-black nanotechnology  that promises to make spacecraft instruments more sensitive without enlarging  their size.

 

A team led by John Hagopian, an optics engineer at NASA’s  Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., has demonstrated that it can grow  a uniform layer of carbon nanotubes through the use of another emerging  technology called atomic layer deposition or ALD. The marriage of the two  technologies now means that NASA can grow nanotubes on three-dimensional  components, such as complex baffles and tubes commonly used in optical  instruments.           Optics engineer John Hagopian works with a nanotube material sample Optics engineer John Hagopian works with a nanotube material sample.  

“The significance of this is that we have new tools that can  make NASA instruments more sensitive without making our telescopes bigger and  bigger,” Hagopian said. “This demonstrates the power of nanoscale technology,  which is particularly applicable to a new class of less-expensive tiny  satellites called Cubesats that NASA is developing to reduce the cost of space  missions.”

Since beginning his research and development effort five years  ago, Hagopian and his team have made significant strides applying the  carbon-nanotube technology to a number of spaceflight applications, including,  among other things, the suppression of stray light that can overwhelm faint  signals that sensitive detectors are supposed to retrieve.

Super Absorbency

During the research, Hagopian tuned the nano-based super-black  material, making it ideal for this application, absorbing on average more than  99 percent of the ultraviolet, visible, infrared and far-infrared light that  strikes it — a never-before-achieved milestone that now promises to open new  frontiers in scientific discovery. The material consists of a thin coating of  multi-walled carbon nanotubes about 10,000 times thinner than a strand of human  hair.

Once a laboratory novelty grown only on silicon, the NASA team  now grows these forests of vertical carbon tubes on commonly used spacecraft  materials, such as titanium, copper and stainless steel. Tiny gaps between the  tubes collect and trap light, while the carbon absorbs the photons, preventing  them from reflecting off surfaces. Because only a small fraction of light  reflects off the coating, the human eye and sensitive detectors see the material  as black.

Before growing this forest of nanotubes on instrument parts,  however, materials scientists must first deposit a highly uniform foundation or  catalyst layer of iron oxide that supports the nanotube growth. For ALD,  technicians do this by placing a component or some other substrate material  inside a reactor chamber and sequentially pulsing different types of gases to  create an ultra-thin film whose layers are literally no thicker than a single  atom. Once applied, scientists then are ready to actually grow the carbon  nanotubes. They place the component in another oven and heat the part to about  1,832  F (750 C). While it heats, the component is bathed in carbon-containing  feedstock gas.

“The samples we’ve grown to date are flat in shape,” Hagopian  explained. “But given the complex shapes of some instrument components, we  wanted to find a way to grow carbon nanotubes on three-dimensional parts, like  tubes and baffles. The tough part is laying down a uniform catalyst layer.  That’s why we looked to atomic layer deposition instead of other techniques,  which only can apply coverage in the same way you would spray something with  paint from a fixed angle.”
ALD to the Rescue
ALD, first described in the 1980s and later adopted by the  semiconductor industry, is one of many techniques for applying thin films.  However, ALD offers an advantage over competing techniques. Technicians can  accurately control the thickness and composition of the deposited films, even  deep inside pores and cavities. This gives ALD the unique ability to coat in and  around 3-D objects.
NASA Goddard co-investigator Vivek Dwivedi, through a  partnership with the University of Maryland at College Park, is now advancing  ALD reactor technology customized for spaceflight applications.
Lachlan Hyde works with an atomic layer deposition system
Lachlan Hyde, an expert in atomic layer deposition at Australia’s  Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication, works with one of the organization’s two  ALD systems. (Image: MCN)
To determine the viability of using ALD to create the catalyst  layer, while Dwivedi was building his new ALD reactor, Hagopian engaged through  the Science Exchange the services of the Melbourne Centre for Nanofabrication  (MCN), Australia’s largest nanofabrication research center. The Science Exchange  is an online community marketplace where scientific service providers can offer  their services. The NASA team delivered a number of components, including an  intricately shaped occulter used in a new NASA-developed instrument for  observing planets around other stars.
Through this collaboration, the Australian team fine-tuned the  recipe for laying down the catalyst layer — in other words, the precise  instructions detailing the type of precursor gas, the reactor temperature and  pressure needed to deposit a uniform foundation. “The iron films that we  deposited initially were not as uniform as other coatings we have worked with,  so we needed a methodical development process to achieve the outcomes that NASA  needed for the next step,” said Lachlan Hyde, MCN’s expert in ALD.
The Australian team succeeded, Hagopian said. “We have  successfully grown carbon nanotubes on the samples we provided to MCN and they  demonstrate properties very similar to those we’ve grown using other techniques  for applying the catalyst layer. This has really opened up the possibilities for  us. Our goal of ultimately applying a carbon-nanotube coating to complex  instrument parts is nearly realized.”
Source: NASA

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Nanotechnology material could help reduce CO2 emissions from coal-fired power plants


QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8(Nanowerk News) University of Adelaide researchers have  developed a new nanomaterial that could help reduce carbon dioxide emissions  from coal-fired power stations.
The new nanomaterial, described in the Journal of the  American Chemical Society (“Post-synthetic Structural Processing in a  Metal–Organic Framework Material as a Mechanism for Exceptional CO2/N2 Selectivity”), efficiently separates the  greenhouse gas carbon dioxide from nitrogen, the other significant component of  the waste gas released by coal-fired power stations. This would allow the carbon  dioxide to be separated before being stored, rather than released to the  atmosphere.
“A considerable amount of Australia‘s – and the world’s – carbon  dioxide emissions come from coal-fired power stations,” says Associate Professor  Christopher Sumby, project leader and ARC Future Fellow in the  University’s School of Chemistry and Physics.
“Removing CO2 from the flue gas  mixture is the focus of a lot of research. Most of Australia’s energy generation  still comes from coal. Changing to cleaner energies is not that straightforward  but, if we can clean up the emissions, we’ve got a great stop-gap technology.”
The researchers have produced a new absorbent material, called a  ‘metal-organic framework‘, which has “remarkable selectivity” for separating  CO2 from nitrogen.
“It is like a sponge but at a nanoscale,” says Associate  Professor Sumby. “The material has small pores that gas molecules can fit into –  a CO2 molecule fits but a nitrogen molecule is  slightly too big. That’s how we separate them.”
Other methods of separating CO2 from nitrogen are energy-intensive and expensive. This material has the  potential to be more energy efficient. It’s easy to regenerate (removing the  CO2) for reuse, with small changes in temperature  or pressure.
“This material could be used as it is but there are probably  smarter ways to implement the benefits,” says Associate Professor Sumby.
“One of the next steps we’re pursuing is taking the material in  powder form and dispersing it in a membrane. That may be more practical for  industrial use.”
The project is funded by the Science Industry Endowment Fund and  is a collaboration between researchers in the Centre of Advanced  Nanomaterials, in the School of Chemistry and Physics, and the CSIRO.
Source: University of Adeleide

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