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Nanotechnology - Cleaning Up Our Water Chemical Engineers Call On Nanoparticles To Combat Polluted Groundwater

April 1, 2008 Chemical engineers created nanoparticles out of gold and palladium to break down pollutants in groundwater. Adding the particles to groundwater converts dangerous contaminants like trichloroethylene into non-toxic compounds.
See also: Matter & Energy Nature of Water Nuclear Energy Chemistry

Earth & Climate Water Hazardous Waste Pollution Reference Hazardous waste Soil contamination Water pollution Surface runoff He's just 37 years old, but he's already making a difference in the world! A young engineer is creating small solutions to big problems. We've seen it in the movies -- polluted drinking water is a health and environmental concern. In fact, right now, 30 states need to clean up their groundwater. "They've been designated by the EPA as being highly contaminated, and they've got to do something about the contaminated water," Michael Wong, Ph.D., a chemical engineer at Rice University in Houston, told Ivanhoe. Dr. Wong is one of Smithsonian Magazine's America's Young Innovators and for good reason. He's trying to come up with a way to use nanoparticles to clean up our water. "Water is not just H2O. Water has all sorts of stuff in it and the stuff we don't want, those are the things that can really hurt you," Dr. Wong explains. He's using nanoparticles made out of gold and palladium -- a metal related to platinum -- to get rid of chemicals. One of the most common pollutants in United States groundwater is trichloroethylene, or TCE, a solvent used to degrease metals. And it can cause cancer. "Our idea was, let's go ahead and break it down -- break it down into something that's safer," Dr. Wong says. "Safer chemicals that won't hurt your body and hurt the animals and the fish and what not." Wong uses nanoparticles -- ten thousand times smaller than a human hair -- and hydrogen to break TCE into something non-toxic. "We are going to pump water through this guy here and the water is being pumped from the bottom up," Dr. Wong explains. Glass beads will help to hold the nanoparticles in place. "Then clean water comes out," Dr. Wong says. Dr. Wong plans to test it at military sites first -- then move onto industrial sites and dry cleaning businesses. "I'd like to see our reactor do a really good job of getting rid of some of the contaminants," Dr. Wong says. Possibly,

making our water and environment cleaner in the future. Dr. Wong says his reactor will be more efficient and cost less than the carbon reactors being used now. WHAT IS HAZARDOUS WASTE? In the U.S., hazardous waste is defined as any discarded solid or liquid that is highly corrosive, toxic, reactive enough to release toxic fumes, or easily ignited. It can include solvents, pesticides, and spilled chemicals -- including acids, ammonia, chlorine bleach and other industrial cleaning agents -- as well as most heavy metals. Long-term exposure to hazardous waste can lead to chronic respiratory diseases such as asthma, damaged liver and kidneys, or cancer. Poisoning and chemical burns can result from contact with even small amounts of toxic chemical waste. Even brief exposure can cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea. WHERE THAT GLASS OF WATER COMES FROM: Drinking water can come from either ground water sources, via wells, or surface water sources, such as rivers, lakes and streams. Most U.S. water systems in small and rural areas use a ground water source, while large metropolitan areas tend to rely on surface water. Causes of contamination can range from agricultural runoff to improper use of household chemicals. SECONDARY STANDARDS: Even if your tap water meets the EPA's basic requirement for safe drinking water, some people still object to the taste, smell or appearance of their water. These are aesthetic concerns, however, and therefore fall under the EPA's voluntary secondary standards. Some tap water is drinkable, but may be temporarily clouded because of air bubbles, or have a chlorine taste. A bleachy taste can be improved by letting the water stand exposed to the air for a while. The American Geophysical Union, the American Waterworks Association, and AVS contributed to the information contained in the video portion of this report.

Tomatoes Grow Well In Diluted Seawater And Produce More Natural Antioxidants
ScienceDaily (Mar. 20, 2007) With critical water shortages looming in some parts of the world, scientists in Italy are reporting that diluted seawater can be used to grow tomatoes and actually results in fruit with significantly higher levels of healthful antioxidant compounds.
See Also: Plants & Animals Drought Food Nature

Earth & Climate Drought Research Water Oceanography Reference Sea water Polyphenol antioxidant Tomato Deadly nightshade and related plants

The controlled use of alternative water resources, such as diluted seawater, could be a valid tool to face drought in the Mediterranean region, the researchers say in a report scheduled for the April 4 issue of ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, a bi-weekly publication. Our results show that the antioxidant-related nutritional value of tomatoes is significantly improved when the fruits are picked at the red-ripe stage and when the plants are exposed to moderate salinity stress conditions, such as those determined by the application of diluted seawater (10 percent). In the study, Riccardo Izzo and colleagues set out to determine if the combined effects of diluted seawater and ripening could improve the beneficial nutritional properties of tomatoes, long recognized as a rich source of natural antioxidant compounds. They grew various types of tomatoes, including those commonly used for salads, under different levels of salinity and analyzed the fruit for nutrients. The higher antioxidant levels in tomatoes grown in 10 percent seawater probably resulted from the plants response to salt-related stress, the researchers suggest. Email or share this story: |More Story Source: The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by American Chemical Society, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS. Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats: APA MLA American Chemical Society (2007, March 20). Tomatoes Grow Well In Diluted Seawater And Produce More Natural Antioxidants.ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 11, 2010, from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070319091015.htm Note: If no author is given, the source is cited inst

Watering Tomato Plants With Diluted Seawater Boosts Levels Of Antioxidants

ScienceDaily (Apr. 29, 2008) Watering tomatoes with diluted seawater can boost their content of disease-fighting antioxidants and may lead to healthier salads, appetizers, and other tomato-based foods, scientists in Italy report.
See Also: Plants & Animals Agriculture and Food Food Soil Types Botany Pests and Parasites Cell Biology

Reference Greenhouse Vegetable

Tomato Seedless Fruit

Besides their use in a variety of ethnic food dishes, tomatoes are one of the most commonly grown home garden vegetables, particularly cherry tomatoes. Scientists have linked tomatoes to several health benefits, including protection against prostate cancer and heart disease. Researchers have known for years that seawater does not stimulate the growth of tomatoes, but scientists know little about its effects on the nutritional content of the vegetables. In the new study, Riccardo Izzo and colleagues grew cherry tomatoes in both freshwater and in a dilute solution of 12 percent seawater. They found that ripe tomatoes grown in the salty water showed higher levels of vitamin C, vitamin E, dihydrolipoic acid, and chlorogenic acid. All of these substances are antioxidants that appear to fight heart disease, cancer, aging, and other conditions. Using saltwater to irrigate tomato crops also appears to be a promising alternative to freshwater irrigation, especially in the wake of water shortages in some parts of the world, the researchers note. The article "Irrigation with Diluted Seawater Improves the Nutritional Value of Cherry Tomatoes" is scheduled for the May 14 issue of ACS' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry Email or share this story: |More Story Source: The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDaily staff) from materials provided by American Chemical Society, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.