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

 

Gareth Morgan: The Government’s Fresh Water Policy – Revisited

Fresh water quality is the latest area to be in the sights of Gareth Morgan and his research organisation The Morgan Foundation... They found that the fresh water policy was a bit murkier than the Environment Minister let on. More>>

ALSO:

Interest Rates: RBNZ Hikes OCR To 3.5%, ‘Period Of Assessment’ Now Needed

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler raised the official cash rate as expected, while signalling a pause in rate hikes to assess the impact of moves so far this year. The kiwi dollar sank after Wheeler said its strength was “unjustified” and that the currency could have “a significant fall.” More>>

ALSO:

Fonterra: Canpac Site 'Resize' To Focus More On Paediatrics

Fonterra is looking at realigning its packing operations at Canpac, in the Waikato, to focus more on paediatric nutritionals... The proposed changes could mean around 110 roles may not be required at the site which currently employs 330. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Postie Plus Brand Gets 2nd Chance With Well-Funded Pepkor

The Postie Plus brand is getting a new lease of life after South Africa’s Pepkor bought the failed retailer’s assets out of administration and said it will use its purchasing power to reduce costs of stock and fatten margins. More>>

ALSO:

Warming: Warming Signs From State Of Climate Report

Climate data from air, land, sea and ice in 2013 'reflect trends of a warming planet' -- says the latest State of the Climate report, launched by U.S. and New Zealand scientists. More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Business: Embrace Falling Home Affordability, Says NZIER

Despair over the inability to afford a house is misplaced and should be embraced as an opportunity to invest in more wealth-creating activity, says the principal economist at the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research, Shamubeel Eaqub. More>>

Productivity Commission: NZ Regulation Not Keeping Pace

New Zealand regulators often have to work with out-of-date legislation, quality checks are under strain, and regulatory workers need better training and development. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
Computer Power Plus

Standards New Zealand

Standards New Zealand
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news