Science

Glowing Crystals Can Clear Contaminated Water: Here’s How

By Rodney Rafols , Nov 30, 2016 06:43 AM EST
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Crystals are said to have some positive effects on people. This has been believed by those who adhere to crystals and how they work. Some of it might have some truth, as Science now look into what crystals can do. Scientists look into glowing crystals that can clear contaminated water. Scientists say here's how it's done.

The glowing crystals that would be used are said to detect heavy metals such as lead and mercury in contaminated water. A team of researchers from Rutgers University is studying crystals that have been developed to find out how they work. The researchers have used the x-rays at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for that purpose.

One of the crystals that have been tested has been found to take as much as 99 percent of mercury found in a mixture of heavy and light metals. The crystal is said to have performed very well than other types of crystals. These crystals are small, measuring at only 100 microns and could only be studied through x-rays at the lab's Advanced Light Source (ALS).

Simon Teat, a Berkeley Lab staff scientist, studied these crystals. He found that the crystals have a grid-like structure that has carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and zinc atoms. The atoms in the grid could help in making much larger structures with the same pattern and atom content. The structure has channels into which heavy metal elements enter, to which then the atoms bind to these heavy metals.

The crystals are made to glow by using a fluorescent chemical component, according to the Berkeley Lab's site. Once heavy metals are bound, the crystals have this fluorescence turned off. The use of these crystals could be a money-saving solution in the future, since the crystals can both detect and bind heavy metals. Other crystals can only do one of those actions.

The crystals work best with mercury and lead, Science Daily reports. They are not as effective though to lighter elements such as magnesium and calcium, though those aren't as dangerous as heavy metals. This selective trait of the glowing crystals could make them very useful, as noted by Jing Li, a Chemistry professor at Rutgers University and lead author of the research.

Not only are the crystals selective, but they can be reused also. That would make them be cost-effective. More research is being done to produce crystals that would have lower cost and can have longer reuse cycles. The glowing crystals though have proved it can clear contaminated water, and scientists have shown here's how it's done. Another way to use water is by having it as a source of energy, as sewage water could be the next biofuel source.

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