Siberians offer new heavy metal identification technology
21 Apr '15
Scientists at the Tomsk State University (TSU) have developed a new system to pinpoint heavy metals, including cobalt, copper, nickel and manganese, in liquids. The solution will be less expensive and easier to use than international analogs, the TSU website announced.
“The testing methodology enables us to not only just identify whether metal ions are present but also determine an amount of the metal and see if concentration is hazardous, and how hazardous it is,” the source quoted Lyudmila Bobkova, an associate professor at TSU’s nonorganic chemistry chair, as saying.
The indicator the Tomsk researchers use is a conventional sorbent widely used to reduce the hardness of water. The substance is said to change its color when adsorbing some metal ions from a solution.
The Siberian technology is easier to use and less costly than existing analogs because it requires no extra reagents. According to expert estimates, one test will cost anything between $0.1 and $0.2.
“One could conduct tests in basically any condition; no complex lab equipment and skilled staff are required,” added Valentina Zharkova, one of the developers.
Near-term plans include an extension of the current line of metals to be detected to add rare earths and iron.
The researchers have obtained a Russian patent for the technology and believe it can be used by environmental specialists to monitor natural and waste waters, by emergency agencies to assess the aftermath of natural and man-induced disasters, and by engineers at industrial companies to test production units and purification systems.
According to TSU data, about 75% of the test systems currently used in Russia are imported; it’s critical to adopt a domestic technology for quality express analysis.