Innovative Nano-Process Removes Pollutants from Groundwater

Researchers from Rice University, DuPont Central Research and Development, and Stanford University have announced a full-scale field test of a new process that gently but quickly destroys contaminants. The technology is called PGClear and it originated from basic scientific research at Rice during a ten-year, federally funded initiative to use nanotechnology to clean the environment. PGClear uses a combination of palladium and gold metal to break down hazardous compounds like vinyl chloride, trichloroethene (TCE), and chloroform into nontoxic byproducts. "Chlorinated compounds were widely used as solvents for many decades, and they are common groundwater contaminants the world over," says Michael Wong, a professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Rice. These compounds are found at more than 60 percent of the contaminated waste sites on the Superfund National Priorities List.