2009

Using Volcanic Ash To Remove Dissolved Uranium and Lead

Experiments have shown that significant fractions of uranium, lead, and possibly other toxic and/or radioactive substances can be removed from an aqueous solution by simply exposing the solution, at ambient temperature, to a treatment medium that includes weathered volcanic ash from Pu’u Nene, which is a cinder cone on the Island of Hawaii. Heretofore, this specific volcanic ash has been used for an entirely different purpose: simulating the spectral properties of Martian soil.

The treatment medium can consist of the volcanic ash alone or in combination with chitosan, which is a natural polymer that can be produced from seafood waste or easily extracted from fungi, some bacteria, and some algae. The medium is harmless to plants and animals and, because of the abundance and natural origin of its ingredient(s), is inexpensive. The medium can be used in a variety of ways and settings: it can be incorporated into water-filtration systems; placed in contact or mixed with water-containing solids (e.g., soils and sludges); immersed in bodies of water (e.g., reservoirs, lakes, rivers, or wells); or placed in and around nuclear power plants, mines, and farm fields.

This work was done by David S. McKay of Johnson Space Center and Raul G. Cuero of Prairie View A&M University. For further information, contact the JSC Innovation Partnerships Office at (281) 483-3809.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to:

Prairie View A&M University
P.O. Box 685
Prairie View, TX 77446

Refer to MSC-23545-1, volume and number of this NASA Tech Briefs issue, and the page number.

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