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Graphene Oxide Soaks Up Radioactive Waste: U.S., Russian Researchers Collaborate On Solution to Toxic Groundwater Woes



January 09, 2013 – Comments (2)

More on the wonders of graphene


Graphene Oxide Soaks Up Radioactive Waste: U.S., Russian Researchers Collaborate On Solution to Toxic Groundwater Woes

Jan. 8, 2013 — Graphene oxide has a remarkable ability to quickly remove radioactive material from contaminated water, researchers at Rice University and Lomonosov Moscow State University have found.

A collaborative effort by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour and the Moscow lab of chemist Stepan Kalmykov determined that microscopic, atom-thick flakes of graphene oxide bind quickly to natural and human-made radionuclides and condense them into solids. The flakes are soluble in liquids and easily produced in bulk.

The experimental results were reported in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics.

The discovery, Tour said, could be a boon in the cleanup of contaminated sites like the Fukushima nuclear plants damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. It could also cut the cost of hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") for oil and gas recovery and help reboot American mining of rare earth metals, he said.

Graphene oxide's large surface area defines its capacity to adsorb toxins, Kalmykov said. "So the high retention properties are not surprising to us," he said. "What is astonishing is the very fast kinetics of sorption, which is key."

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2 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On January 09, 2013 at 4:36 PM, ath002 (< 20) wrote:


Hi Binve,


Appreciate the article. Are you thinking it is the right time to invest in grahite miners and if so do you have any names in mind?

I read somewhere that graphene can also be synthetically created, ie. does not require graphite. Would you know if that is correct?

Thanks in advance,


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#2) On January 09, 2013 at 5:25 PM, binve (< 20) wrote:

Hi ath002,

There are lot of graphite manufacturers around (graphite fiber is made from a couple of manufacuring processes, PAN or Pitch) and the 'old' way to get graphene was to extract the top layer of molecules so that you could get the the single layer thickness of atoms that make up the graphene lattice.

However, that is a terribly inefficient way to get graphene for mass production. New methods are based on vapor deposition processes and there several companies (none public that I know of) that have been commericializing that process. 

As more and more uses for graphene are discovered, the more the industry will develop and I do think there will be companies to come out of it. 

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