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A dirty job but ...
Date:4/13/2009

Byproducts from the electronics, fuel, chemical and defense industries can be far from benign. Toxic heavy metals like cadmium and lead can seep into our food chain and cause cancer. And if found in the soil, these dangerous materials can render parks off-limits and real estate worthless.

For environmental, health and financial reasons, new solutions are needed to help clean industrial chemicals from America's soil.

Now, an innovative Tel Aviv University soil-cleaning technique, which turns a cement truck into a giant mixer, may change things for industry and environmental specialists. Prof. Amos Ullmann and Prof. Neima Brauner of TAU's Faculty of Engineering and Prof. Eliora Ron of the Faculty of Life Sciences, in cooperation with Israeli researcher Dr. Zvi Ludmer, are working on a new cleaning agent that binds to and whisks dangerous materials away from the soil, leaving desirable minerals intact.

"My colleagues have developed a system that literally washes the soil," says Dr. Michael Gozin of TAU's School of Chemistry. Their top-secret formulation, now in the early stages of research and development, will make it possible for truckloads of contaminated earth to be cleaned in a cement mixer. The compound not only leaves life-sustaining nutrients in the soil, but it's also biodegradable and environmentally safe.

More than Soap and Water

"Heavy metals can't be removed from the soil with just soap and water," says Dr. Gozin. "Chemically-speaking, a cleaning agent of this nature is very difficult to develop." With the new technique, once a commercial partner is found, however, the product could be ready in as little as 3 years. It can also be customized to remove specific dangerous chemicals, which can then be transferred to suitable confinement facilities.

Soil, says Dr. Gozin, is a very complex material. "When we're designing chemicals of the future, we have to keep in mind the delicate balance in o
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert  

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