Tag Archives: environmental hazards

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Green mango peel nanoparticles: a slick solution

For the petroleum industry remediating oil sludge is a costly and an ongoing challenge, particularly when 3-7 per cent of oil processing activities are irreversibly lost as oily or sludge waste.

Lead researcher, UniSA’s Dr Biruck Desalegn says without treatment oil contaminated soil presents a massive risk to ecosystems and the environment.

“Last year, global oil production reached a new record of 92.6 million barrels per day, but despite improvements in control technologies, oil refineries unavoidably continue to generate large volumes of oil sludge,” Dr Desalegn says.

“Oil contamination can present cytotoxic, mutagenic and potentially carcinogenic conditions for all living things, including people

“What’s more, the toxicity and physical properties of oil change over time, which means the process of weathering can expose new, and evolved toxins.”

The new nanoparticles, synthesized from green mango peel extract and iron chloride, provide a novel and effective treatment for oil contaminated soil. They work by breaking down toxins in oil sludge through chemical oxidation, leaving behind only the decontaminated materials and dissolved iron.

Dr Desalegn says the new plant-based nanoparticles can successfully decontaminate oil-polluted soil, removing more than 90 per cent of toxins.

“Plant extracts are increasingly used to create nanomaterials,” Dr Desalegn says.

“In this study, we experimented with mango peel to create zerovalent iron nanoparticles which have the ability to breakdown various organic contaminants.

“With mango peel being such a rich source of bioactive compounds, it made sense that zerovalent iron made from mango peel might be more potent in the oxidation process.

“As we discovered, the mango peel iron nanoparticles worked extremely well, even outperforming a chemically synthesized counterpart by removing more of contaminants in the oil sludge.”

Dr Desalegn says this discovery presents a sustainable, green solution to address the significant pollution generated by the world’s oil production.

“Ever since the devastation of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the petroleum industry has been acutely aware of their responsibilities for safe and sustainable production processes,” Dr Desalegn says.

“Our research uses the waste part of the mango – the peel – to present an affordable, sustainable and environmentally friendly treatment solution for oil sludge.

“And while the world continues to be economically and politically reliant on oil industries as a source of energy working to remediate the impact of oil pollution will remain a serious and persistent issue.”

Source: University of South Australia

Taming toxic pollution

CRC CARE is addressing the significant growing issue of toxic environmental pollution with innovative and effective real-world solutions.

Recently, major concerns have emerged across Australia about sites contaminated by chemical pollutants known as per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

Potentially harmful to human health and the environment, some PFAS are active ingredients in firefighting foam. These include PFOS, which is listed in the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants. PFAS contamination has become a big problem near some firefighting training areas, where it has contaminated soil and water.

“There are more than 100,000 potentially toxic chemicals and five million potentially contaminated sites globally, so there is a real need for innovation,” says Professor Ravi Naidu, CEO of the CRC for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE).

One of CRC CARE’s innovations is a product called matCARE, a modified natural clay that can irreversibly lock up PFAS so polluted soil and water can be decontaminated. Naidu says matCARE is 50% more efficient – and thus cheaper – than similar technologies, and does not leach PFAS over time.

Four firefighting training sites have successfully cleaned up the pollution with matCARE and CRC CARE is now looking to partner with companies to broaden its use beyond the safe storage of the chemical. “The technology that’s available at the moment can only immobilise PFAS and unfortunately there is still a contaminated product at the end,” explains Naidu. “We have developed a technology that breaks down PFAS into carbon dioxide and fluoride. Companies are looking for technology that decomposes PFAS into safe products and we have been able to do that.”

Cherese Sonkkila

crccare.com