Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Project aims to tame toxic metal


Monday, November 5, 2012


Project aims to tame toxic metal

A Massey University researcher has been awarded funding to research how to better deal with beryllium, the most toxic non-radioactive element on the planet.

Dr Paul Plieger, of the Institute of Fundamental Sciences, has been awarded $930,000 from the Marsden Fund for the three-year project. The team he leads includes scientists from the University of Waikato and the University of Auckland.

While beryllium’s toxicity is well known, it has not stopped its use in a range of commercial applications, from mobile phones components and aircraft brake linings to golf clubs and telescopes. But Dr Plieger says the work to understand the fundamental chemistry of the element is yet to be carried out.

“Our main aim will be to develop chelating agents by creating designer molecules that will bind to the beryllium atoms,” he says. “If we can do this, we will be better able to detect beryllium in the environment, develop therapies for individuals exposed to it, and devise protocols to remediate beryllium contamination.”

Dr Plieger says beryllium’s unique properties mean it cannot be replaced by a safer metal in many of its applications. “Anything that requires a high-temperature semi-conductor probably has beryllium in it,” he says.

“The amount of beryllium in electronic componentry, such as laptops and mobile phones, is very small but the problem arises when they come to the end of their lives. If you incinerate them, for instance, you’ll have beryllium dust in the air and it’s the dust that causes the problems.”

He says the molecules they develop will hopefully be able to be used in a number of applications. “For instance we could develop a foam that could be applied after an aircraft crash to stop the release of beryllium dust.”

However, a lot of fundamental chemistry was required to begin. “So little work has been done with beryllium,” he says. “We have some idea about the things that it likes to bind to, but are no organic molecules that can bind to beryllium selectively. This work has been done for pretty much every other metallic element on the periodic table, so we want to do that for this one, too.”

ends

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Price Of Cheese: Dairy Product Prices Fall To The Lowest This Year

Dairy product prices fell in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, hitting the lowest level in the 2015 auctions so far, as prices for milk powder and butter slid amid concern about the outlook for commodities. More>>

ALSO:

Houston, We Have An Air Route: Air New Zealand To Fly Direct To The Heart Of Texas

Air New Zealand will fly its completely refitted Boeing 777-200 aircraft between Auckland and Houston up to five times a week opening up the state of Texas as well as popular nearby tourist states such as Louisiana and Florida. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Reserve Bank’s Spencer Calls On Govt To Rethink Housing Tax

The Reserve Bank has urged the government to take another look at a capital gains tax on investment in housing, allow increased high-density development and cut red tape for planning consents to address an over-heated Auckland property market. More>>

ALSO:

The Nation: Call For Cross-Party Auckland Housing Plan

Penny Hulse calls for cross-party accord on Auckland housing because “it’s too important to score political points on”. More>>

ALSO:

Flu Season: Overcoming Vaccination Reluctance

While research shows that 40% of New Zealand businesses offer free or subsidised flu vaccinations to employees this time of year, HR professionals say persuading staff to participate is the biggest challenge. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news