Researchers at UC Santa Cruz have developed a material that they call SLUG-26 which acts like a pollutant magnet when tossed into contaminated waterways. SLUG — perhaps a play on the California school’s Banana Slug mascot — is a new material that is cheaper and more effective than current methods of removing negatively-charged pollutants from waterways. The material is a positively-charged substrate which, that when placed in polluted water, exchanges non-toxic negative ions for negatively charged pollutants thereby cleaning the water.

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Our goal for the past 12 years has been to make materials that can trap pollutants, and we finally got what we wanted. The data shows that the exchange process works,” noted associate professor of chemistry, Scott Oliver. Oliver and his team, so far, have only done lab testing but they are planning to take their SLUG-26 on site to see how attractive it is for real world water toxins.

They are currently working on the compound’s ability to trap technetium, a nuclear waste pollutant that has the incredible half-life of 212,000 years. Technetium is a huge concern in nuclear waste disposal as it can leak out of nuclear waste facilities and once in water, will form the negatively charged pollutant pertechnetate. The team is hopeful that their new molecule will be just the right enemy for this disastrous radioactive material.

Via Science Daily