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Comment Automation & Control

This portable device measures Hg+2 in water samples

By Paul Grad |

An ultra-sensitive, low-cost and portable system for detecting mercury in water has been developed by University of Adelaide (Australia; www.adelaide.edu.au) researchers, in collaboration with the Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Tarragona, Catalonia, Spain; www.urv.cat). Project leader Abel Santos, of the Adelaide’s School of Chemical Engineering, says there are systems capable of monitoring mercury at trace levels, but they are huge, expensive machines and are complicated to use. Also, samples require chemical treatment before analysis in such instruments. “Our system, on the other hand, is very cost-competitive, only as big as a mobile phone and easy to use,” he says. The researchers have engineered a nanoporous material, called nanoporous anodic alumina, to make a special structure called a rugate filter. The surface of the filter has been modified to make it selective to mercury ions. As water flows through the pores, the mercury ions become attached to the surface. Reflection spectroscopy measures the amount of mercury present. The system has a linear working range from 1 to 100 µM of Hg+2. Its low limit of detection is 1 µM of Hg+2 ions. Tests were successfully carried out at the River Torrens, demonstrating…
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