Synthetic Coral Could Help Clean the Oceans of Toxic Heavy Metals

Self-curled Coral-like Y-Al2O3 Nanoplates for Use as an Adsorbent
Journal of Colloid and Interface Science (September 1, 2015, v453, p244–251; doi:10.1016/j.jcis.2015.03.065

[Yale Environment 360] Chinese researchers have constructed a type of synthetic coral that could help remove toxic heavy metals like mercury from the ocean, according to a report in the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science. Mercury can be especially toxic to corals because they very efficiently adsorb heavy metals, the scientists note. They took advantage of that ability to create a synthetic coral that can bind and remove mercury pollution in water. The coral-like structure is covered with self-curling nanoplates made of aluminum oxide — a chemical compound that can collect heavy metals. The scientists found that the synthetic coral structure could bind mercury 2.5 times more efficiently than aluminum oxide particles alone. According to the World Health Organization, up to 17 in every thousand children living in areas relying on subsistence fishing showed cognitive declines caused by eating mercury-contaminated fish.


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