Czech researchers have developed an effective way to combat the presence of radioactive uranium in a liquid. Their microscopic robots are indeed able to clean the contaminated water! This innovation could give some hope to those who hope to clean the planet one day.
According to researchers at the University of Chemistry and Technology in Prague (Czech Republic), their microbots would be capable of real feats. Indeed, their publication in the journal ACS Nano of October 8, 2019 indicates that these microscopic robots can almost completely clean a liquid containing radioactive uranium. Moreover, their diameter is amazing: only four micrometers in length! This represents four times less than the diameter of a human hair.
In fact, these microrobots cylindrical form are made from tiny organometallic structures. These same structures are composed of magnetic ferric oxide and catalytic platinum, which gives a porous material. This kind of “organic metal frame” can attract different molecules such as radioactive uranium.
When immersed in water, the robots use catalytic platinum nanoparticles located on one of their two ends. Then, the latter convert hydrogen peroxide diffused in water into oxygen bubbles. This allows the microbots to move at a rate of 0.3 mm / second. At the end of the process, iron nanoparticles added to the water can recover the robots by means of a magnet.
A little hope for the planet?
According to the researchers: “in a simulation of radioactive liquid waste, microrobots were able to remove 96% of uranium in one hour”. This technology is clearly focused on the environment. Indeed, it creates the hope of cleaning up some nuclear waste generated by nuclear power plants.
It can also clean up radioactive waters from nuclear accidents such as Fukushima in 2011. It should be recalled that a few months ago, Japan declared that it wanted to dump millions of tons of water irradiated in the Pacific Ocean. the disaster, because the Fukushima power station will soon have no more space to contain this radioactive water. This did not fail to worry South Korea nearby. Indeed, it will take 17 years to dilute this contaminated water. It will only then reach an acceptable level for health!