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Content archived on 2024-06-10

Sorption of metals by low cost natural materials


The purification of water and pollution control already constitute a prominent part of any industrial policy. Heavy metals are a priority aim in this field and have been the motive of considerable effort of R&D in recent years. Amongst the many aspects which together make up the environmental problem of these substances, there are two which are of particular significance in certain industrial sectors: The generally high costs of available purification systems (physico-chemical plants, ion exchange columns, washing in cascade, etc.) and the need to treat large volumes of effluents with contaminating elements found in low concentrations but which have a potentially accumulative or high toxicity effect. On the other hand, there is a wide range of natural minerals which are very abundant and relatively low cost, and which are well-known for their capacity to retain metallic ions through processes of sorption. Some of these minerals could furthermore increase that capacity by different methods of treatment. The objective of the proposed project is to study the potential of a number of these minerals which are available in the European Union, with a view to obtaining cheap, large capacity systems for water purification, the cleaning of soils and to obtain processes to seal off waste dumps in relation to contamination from heavy metals. The project consists of three different but interrelated parts: - exhaustive study of the sorption capacity of the easily accessible natural minerals; - development of methods and technology to improve the natural sorption capacity of the minerals by physical and chemical treatment; - development of applications to specific sectors (metal finishing and tanning), including the construction of prototypes. The range of industrial minerals to be considered initially includes the following: laminar silicates: smectites, hormites, illites, vermiculite, etc., oxides, zeolites, calcite and wollastonite . The contaminating elements which are the object of the study are Cr, Ni, Cu, Cd and Zn. New names could be added to either list during the project if thought to be of interest. The Consortium is made up of two industrial minerals producers, two specialised engineering offices (one in project planning and one in computational modelling), three end users and three official research centres.

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c/. Cañón de Río Lobos 22, Polígono Industrial II
37008 Salamanca

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Participants (10)