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

 

Watch This Space: Mahia Rocket Lab Launch Site Officially Opened

Economic Development Minster Steven Joyce today opened New Zealand’s first orbital launch site, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, on the Mahia Peninsula on the North Island’s east coast. More>>

Earlier:

Marketing Rocks!
Ig Nobel Award Winners Assess The Personality Of Rocks

A Massey University marketing lecturer has received the 2016 Ig Nobel Prize for economics for a research project that asked university students to describe the “brand personalities” of three rocks. More>>

ALSO:

Nurofen Promotion: Reckitt Benckiser To Plead Guilty To Misleading Ads

Reckitt Benckiser (New Zealand) intends to plead guilty to charges of misleading consumers over the way it promoted a range of Nurofen products, the Commerce Commission says. More>>

ALSO:

Half A Billion Accounts, Including Xtra: Yahoo Confirms Huge Data Breach

The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. More>>

ALSO:

Rural Branches: Westpac To Close 19 Branches, ANZ Looks At 7

Westpac confirms it will close nineteen branches across the country; ANZ closes its Ngaruawahia branch and is consulting on plans to close six more branches; The bank workers union says many of its members are nervous about their futures and asking ... More>>

Interest Rates: RBNZ's Wheeler Keeps OCR At 2%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 2 percent and said more easing will be needed to get inflation back within the target band. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news