Synthetic chemists from South Australia’s Flinders University have created a material from industrial waste and orange peel capable of sucking mercury out of water.
Why is this a big discovery?
Quite simply, mercury in water damages food and water supplies, sometimes even resulting in fatalities.
The polymer, which is called sulfur-limonene polysulfide, can be synthesized entirely from industrial byproducts according to the researchers.
Researcher Justin Chalker says, “We take sulphur, which is a byproduct of the petroleum industry, and we take limonene, which is the main component of orange oil, so is produced in large quantities by the citrus industry, and we’re able to react them together to form a type of soft red rubber.”
Contaminated water can be easily cleaned up because the soft red rubber absorbs mercury.
At the moment, the team is working hard to create the material on a commercial scale, and luckily for them, there is plenty of sulfur and limonene to go around.
The full results can be seen here.