February 9, 2015

Binding bad: Buckyballs offer environmental benefits

(Feb.9, '15) In Rice University study, treated carbon-60 molecules remove metals from liquids

Treated buckyballs not only remove valuable but potentially toxic metal particles from water and other liquids, but also reserve them for future use, according to scientists at Rice University.

The Rice lab of chemist Andrew Barron has discovered that carbon-60 fullerenes (aka buckyballs) that have gone through the chemical process known as hydroxylation aggregate into pearl-like strings as they bind to and separate metals – some better than others – from solutions. Potential uses of the process include the environmentally friendly removal of metals from acid mining drainage fluids, a waste product of the coal industry, as well as from fluids used for hydraulic fracturing in oil and gas production.