Physicists have learned to purify water from oil using nanoparticles and magnets

© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Polarisavenue created nanoparticles to purify water from oil by means of magnetsPhysicists have learned to purify water from oil using nanoparticles and magnets© Illustration RIA Novosti . Alina Polyanina

American physicists have created nanoparticles that are able to join the drops or molecules of the oil and allows to extract them from the water and any other liquids with the help of magnets, according to an article published in the Journal of Nanoparticle Research.

«We are working on a technology that would allow us to recycle these nanoparticles, without resorting to chemicals and complex reactions, which themselves generate hazardous waste. We believe that the creation of such technologies will not only reduce the cost of dealing with oil spills, but also make this process less dangerous for the environment,» said Saeb by Ko (Saebom Ko) from the University of Texas at Austin (USA).

The accident at the oil platform Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, as well as the penetration of hydrocarbons into the groundwater in the development of shale deposits in the United States led scientists to look for new ways to combat water pollution by oil. Today for these purposes, use a special substance, similar in properties to the soap, which connect with oil and make it «float» on the surface of the water in the form of foam.

These substances in themselves are very expensive and cause almost the same damage to nature, and oil. Therefore, scientists today are trying to adapt «Neftianik» microbes and various nanoparticles for pollution control less expensive and dangerous ways.

Ko and his colleagues spoke about the creation of nanoparticles, the ability to perform such tasks. They represent microscopic spheres of iron atoms, coated with a special layer of silicone polymer molecules with a positive charge. This charge allows them to «adhere» to the molecules of heavy uglevodorodov drops of oil, negatively charged, and move them along with them.

When the particles enter the magnetic field, they begin to move in the direction of its source, allowing you to quickly and efficiently remove any amount of oil from the water. For this it is enough to «seed» the water with nanoparticles, to turn on the magnet and just drain the water. All the oil and the nanoparticles will remain «glued» to the wall of the vessel or pipe to which is attached a magnet.

This process works faster than other oil refining technology that does not use magnets – magnetic field can be several orders of magnitude stronger than the gravity of the Earth that causes particles to move towards their source, faster than float to the surface of oil drops, covered with «soap».

In a similar way, as scholars have noted, it is possible to solve and other industrial cleaning tasks and the separation of mixed liquids and other substances – it is enough to cover the nanoparticles with another type of polymer that will be attracted or connect with other types of molecules and atoms. For example, scientists are now working to create systems of water purification from lead and other heavy metals. Their work they test in the field this summer.