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News item: 'Swelling Glass' Cleans Polluted Water Like A Sponge

Recommend this:  Hover here and click below to recommend this PlanetThought     Email a Friend     See Related

0 comments   Add a comment   Contributor:  TheTeam (Jan-28-2010)
Optimism: 4 Categories: Economic/Financial, Pollution

A new kind of glass can swell to absorb pollutants in waterBy Tina Casey

This is the discovery that could put the College of Wooster on the map: glass that swells like a sponge.  Put together like a nano-matrix, the new glass can unfold to hold up to eight times its weight.  The glass binds with gasoline and other pollutants containing volatile organic compounds but it does not bind with water, so it acts like a "smart" sponge, capable of picking and choosing from contaminated groundwater.

The new material was developed by Dr. Paul Edmiston of the College of Wooster, who formed a new company, Absorbent Materials, to market the new glass under the trademark Obsorb.  A number of pilot sites are being tested in the United States, and industrialized countries are not the only ones that stand to gain.  Obsorb's unique properties make it ideal for low tech, low-budget cleanups in developing areas as well.

Swelling Glass, Hydrophobia and Groundwater Pollution

Obsorb is a reactive glass.  Unlike conventional glass, it can bond with the chemicals it encounters.  However, it is also hydrophobic, meaning that it does not bond with water.  At a recent pilot demonstration in Ohio, Obsorb was used in the form of a white powder to suck up a plume of TCE (a volatile organic compound).  TCE is particularly difficult and expensive to clean up using conventional means, which is the reason why some contaminated sites are simply shut down, allowing the vapors to dissipate naturally.  The process takes decades, so Obsorb could provide a low-cost means of recovering sites more quickly.  The venture development group JumpStart Inc. saw the potential and has just committed a $250,000 investment to Absorbent Materials.

Swelling Glass and Low Cost Clean-up

Once full, Obsorb floats to the surface, where it can be skimmed off with something as simple as a coffee filter.  After that the pollutants can be retrieved and the glass can be reused hundreds of time.  Nanoparticles of iron can also be added to convert TCE or PCE (another volatile organic compound) into harmless substances.  As a low cost form of cleanup, swelling glass could provide site remediators with yet another in the growing list of non-conventional cleanup tools along with lactate, vitamin B-12, and even cattails.

See original news item: CleanTechnica.com, Jan-11-2010  
Related PlanetThoughts.org reading:
  Commodification Of Water (Aug-11-2011)
  "If your experience is that your food comes from ..." (Jul-19-2011)
  The Shrinking Pie: Post-Growth Geopolitics (Jul-7-2011)
  10 Ways To Celebrate World Water Day! (Mar-22-2010)
  Michael Pritchard Turns Filthy Water Drinkable (Aug-5-2009)
  What Can Be Done About Micropollutants In Water ... (Jul-13-2009)
  The Plastic Decision: How I Learned NOT to Love ... (Jul-11-2009)
  Biofuel Production And Water Scarcity: A Drink-O... (May-11-2009)
  What Does Earth Day 2009 Signify? (Apr-22-2009)
  GTR: Solving the Global Safe Drinking Water Cris... (Mar-23-2009)

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About contributor Member: TheTeam (PlanetThoughts Team) TheTeam (PlanetThoughts Team)

Member: TheTeam (PlanetThoughts Team) The volunteers of PlanetThoughts.org are happy to give you their best selection of news, opinion, reviews, stories, quotes, tips, and more. We hope you enjoy the reading... and thinking. Thanks!

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