Novel Nanoporous “Sponge” Removes Mercury (and other heavy metals) from Contaminated Waters

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We all know that mercury is a toxic heavy metal that is most feared in the events of spills in offshore waters. Mercury or quicksilver is a metal that is liquid at room temperature. It is toxic in any form and poisoning can result from vapor inhalation, ingestion, injection, or absorption through the skin.

Mercury in any form is toxic. Depending on how it is absorbed, the clinical signs and symptoms and the response to treatment modalities may vary. Mercury poisoning can result from vapor inhalation, ingestion, injection, or absorption through the skin. The commonly affected organs systems in mercury exposure are the neurologic, gastrointestinal and renal systems.

Therefore, any water effluent containing this metal should first be treated before introducing or spilling into the environment. However, the complex mixture of constituents including salts and petroleum hydrocarbons presents a challenge for mercury removal using currently available conventional technologies. Thanks to SAMMS™, this may not be a problem anymore.

Researchers at PNNL have developed a novel nanoporous sorbent thiol-SAMMS, or thiol-functionalized Self Assembled Monolayers on Mesoporous Supports, to specifically remove mercury and other contaminants such as cadmium and lead from produced waters and condensate liquids from natural gas.

Working with a filtration equipment company in Texas, PNNL recently demonstrated that thiol-SAMMS was effective in removing more than 99 percent of mercury from gas condensate liquids containing approximately 800 ppb mercury. The thiol-SAMMS technology is a recipient of a R&D 100 award and recently received the 2006 Federal Laboratory

Consortium award for successful technology transfer for commercial use. Steward Advanced Materials in Chattanooga, Tenn., is now licensed to commercially produce thiol-SAMMS.

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