Engineers Develop Sand Pulling Pollutants from Stormwater

Sunday, December 15, 2019 - 13:27

Engineers from University of California, Berkeley have developed a kind of sand that can soak up toxic metals like lead and cadmium from water.

According to the Phys.org report, UC Berkeley engineers could a mineral-coated sand which can destroy organic pollutants like bisphenol A, this material could help cities tap into stormwater, an abundant but underused water source.

Based on the research, which its results published in the Journal of Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, scientists made the filtration media through coating sand particles with manganese oxide, a naturally-occurring nontoxic mineral commonly found in soil.

"The pollutants that hold back the potential of this water source rarely come one at a time," said study lead author Joe Charbonnet, who conducted this research as a graduate student in civil and environmental engineering.

"It makes sense that we fight back with a treatment technology that has these impressive double abilities to take out both toxic metals and organics. We suspected that the mineral-coated sand was special, but the way it continues to impress us with multiple capabilities is rather extraordinary."

"Rainwater used to percolate into the soil and recharge aquifers," said David Sedlak, professor of civil and environmental engineering and co-author of the paper. "That changed when we covered city landscapes with hard surfaces like roads and buildings. As water-stressed cities try to figure out how to get urban stormwater back into the ground, we have serious concerns about the quality of that water. Our coated sands can remove not one, but two major classes of contaminants that threaten groundwater quality during stormwater infiltration."

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