Iron Nanoparticle: Water Filtration and Remediation Made Possible

The impact of nanotechnology covers a wide area: medical, ethical, mental, legal and environmental applications, to fields such as engineering, biology, chemistry, computing, materials science, and communications. Thus, there is surely a presence of some kind of residue or waste, nanopollution.

Nanopollution refers to all the waste matter or byproducts produced after the manufacture or use of nanoscopic devices or materials. This kind of byproduct, because of it’s miniature size, has the capacity to suspend itself in the air and easily penetrate human, animal and even plant cells causing unknown precarious effects which can be detrimental and possibly destructive.

However, due to various technological research and development, treating nanopollution can now be achieved by using similar methods. Through nanotechnology, water remediation and filtration is made possible. Either mechanical or chemical methods are available to facilitate effective filtration techniques. One way is by the use of nanoporous membrane that separates foreign materials as water is pressed into it. Another way is through the use of iron nanoparticles on contaminated waters.

Iron, as we all know, is a very common element being used in materials for making pots, surgical tools, and building machines and structures. It’s also used to make magnets due to the way electrons orbit each atom. Furthermore, iron rusts and these are formed by combining iron and oxygen to form iron oxide. Nanoparticles of this element, known as iron nanoparticles, are used in both medical imaging and cleaning up pollutants in groundwater.

Researchers are investigating the use of iron nanoparticles medical imaging and treatments such as:

  • Iron nanoparticles are used for delivering a drug, guided by a magnetic field, to a particular region of a patient’s body.

  • After an MRI image shows that nanoparticles are concentrated at the diseased region, an oscillating magnetic electric field would be used to vibrate the nanoparticles, creating heat to kill the diseased cells.

“Iron nanoparticles are also useful in cleaning up organic pollutants in groundwater because they can donate electrons to more electronegative atoms, such as chlorine atoms, present in many organic pollutants. Donating these electrons can cause the molecules to break up into harmless molecules. Because nanoparticles can remain suspended in groundwater for a long time and are transported throughout the system, they are used for groundwater remediation.”

In addition to this, according to a research at Oregon Health & Science University’s OGI School of Science & Engineering and its other partners, nano-sized iron may be useful in groundwater remediation.

Researchers compared two leading types of nanoparticle-sized iron to determine how fast these particles degraded carbon tetrachloride found in groundwater. In addition, iron oxide with a magnetite shell high in sulfur quickly and effectively degraded carbon tetrachloride to a mixture of relatively harmless products. This lead to the possibility of placing nano-sized iron to deep wells, which would help remediate deep plumes containing carbon tetrachloride contaminated groundwater.

 

References:

Boysen, Earl. et al. “Iron Nanoparticles.”UnderstandingNano.com. Hawk’s Perch Technical Writing, LLC, n.d. Web. 19 Jan 2014. <http://www.understandingnano.com/iron-nanoparticles.html&gt;.

Phsy, . “Study finds advantages to iron nanoparticles for environmental clean up.” Phsy.org. Phys.org™ 2003-2013, 14 Jan 2005. Web. 19 Jan 2014. <http://phys.org/news2686.html&gt;.

 

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One thought on “Iron Nanoparticle: Water Filtration and Remediation Made Possible

  1. A bit confusing. There is the issue of nanopollutants raised right at the beginning but there is no discussion on how this may be addressed. There is a discussion, though, on nanomaterials used to address conventional pollution (not nanopollutants). And then, there’s nanomedicine too.

    -RAM

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